Dementia is not just a concern for aged care providers but a pressing public health issue, according to the CEO of Alzheimer’s Australia.
Glenn Rees told a summit on Australia’s ageing population that dementia is a chronic condition that requires coordinated care planning.
The number of people with dementia is set to double by 2030 and without immediate government action, this could have serious effects on the health system.
Mr Rees told the forum that there should be a bigger focus on dementia in primary and acute care, noting that hospitals can be “dangerous” places for people with dementia.
“I believe there is a need to provide incentives through Medicare to promote timely and accurate diagnosis and ongoing support for people with dementia and their family carers,” he said.
“Australia should follow the lead of the UK National Healthcare Service in developing a five year strategy to train all GPs in dementia diagnosis and to support them with specialist services.”
Mr Rees praised the former government forlaunching the Dementia Initiative 2005, which led to the development of the EACH [Extended Aged Care at Home] Dementia packages.
But he reiterated the recommendations of last month’s Access Economics report, calling for more appropriate dementia respite services, revisions to the aged care planning process and quality standards for dementia care.
Turning to aged care staff interactions with people who have dementia, Mr Rees highlighted the importance of a person centred approach and consumer directed care.
“The gradual adoption of consumer directed care and its evaluation over time will be important in the potential for better staff interaction with people with dementia and their family carers,” he said.