Dementia Australia has launched a trial program that will give people coping with a fresh diagnosis of the condition better access to local services and support.
Funded by the federal government, the Dementia Care Navigator Trial will run in Perth and Dubbo, with plans to take the program wider in time.
In those two locations, people living with dementia, their families and carers will have access to a dedicated support person, an information hub and regular seminars.
Obtaining a dementia diagnosis is often a stressful process that can take years, and once received, many people have no idea where to turn, says Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe. She hopes the new trial program will make their path a little easier.
“This trial is about supporting people with dementia to navigate the very complex aged care system, which can be confusing and difficult,” Ms McCabe told Community Care Review.
“Having a dedicated support person who can help you access local services and programs, pre- and post-diagnosis, including referrals, advice and resources, is so important.
“The right support can assist people to live well with dementia and remain at home for longer,” she added.
The trial comes after the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety earlier this year heard that people were missing out on support and health management after being diagnosed with dementia because of a breakdown in the referral process.
The benefits of networking
More than 447,000 Australians currently live with dementia, with 70 per cent of people living in the community and 44 per cent of them living alone, according to Dementia Australia.
“When people receive a dementia diagnosis it can be an extremely socially-isolating time, but we hope this program will help people living with the condition, their families and carers remain connected in the community.”
Networking is a huge part of that, said Ms McCabe.
“We know from our existing programs that one of the things that people with dementia and their carers find incredibly valuable is the opportunity to meet other people in similar circumstances with whom they can discuss ways to manage situations and challenges. They can learn from each other.
“And that’s why local knowledge and support groups are so valuable.”
Perth and Dubbo have been chosen as trial sites because of their differing needs. One is a diverse metropolitan area with high numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders; the other is a regional area.