Review of government-funded dementia programs identifies inefficiencies and calls for consolidation of several services as well as an overarching national framework.
The provision of information and training in dementia for both aged care workers and consumers and carers is a story of unmet need in some areas and duplication of services in others, the national review of government-funded dementia services has concluded.
The review to be released today by the Federal Government found there was a lack of national consistency and coordination of the workforce education and training services, which made administration of the programs less efficient.
The finding of duplication and inefficiencies in the operation of the training programs comes amid the tight federal economic environment that resulted in a 15 per cent cut to the sector’s workforce fund in the May budget.
However, providers and consumer groups will be seeking to hold the Federal Government to the commitment given by former minister Mitch Fifield that the review of dementia programs would not result in cuts to program spending.
The analysis, conducted by KPMG, examined the effectiveness and coordination of the various dementia programs funded by the government – from peak body advocacy and education and training of aged care professionals and families to advisory services and some short-term case management.
Duplication across services
It found there was duplication between the National Dementia Support Program (NDSP) and HACC Dementia Advisory Services, while in some areas HACC was being used to provide services that overlapped with the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service (DBMAS).
There was also overlap between the Dementia Education and Training for Carers (DETC) and the education elements of the NDSP, according to the analysis.
“Essentially the same services are provided under different programs and with no apparent formal organisation across the programs to maximise coverage,” it concluded.
Areas of unmet need
While there was overlap between some services, the analysis also identified gaps in service provision within the current arrangements.
Access to services and programs in regional, rural and remote areas was “the key gap” identified by the report, which found it “may be necessary to reconsider the way funds are allocated to ensure coverage is maximised.”
The analysis also found there was unmet need within most of the minority consumer groups – such as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, LGBTI and CALD – as well as people with younger onset dementia, those living in rural or remote areas with poor health literacy, and people at risk of homelessness.
Call for consolidation of services
The report, based on a qualitative study and stakeholder submissions and consultations, made a number of recommendations for improving coordination between programs, as well as streamlining some of the services. These included:
- handing responsibility for coordinating the workforce training programs to the Dementia Training Study Centres
- consolidating elements of the HACC Dementia Advisory Services with the NDSP and/or the DBMAS
- moving the education and training activities from the NDSP into the DETC program
- moving the systemic advocacy activities from the DNSP into the Dementia Community Support Program.
Ultimately the analysis found there was “widespread agreement” on the need for a more structured approach to the design, development and funding of dementia programs and services, to be achieved through a new national framework.
Government will act on findings: minister
Releasing the review, Minister for Aged Care Sussan Ley said the Federal Government would build “improved and nationally consistent dementia support services for all Australians.”
While noting the recommendations in the report, Ms Ley said she would consult with the aged care sector before announcing the government’s response by the end of the year.
That consultation would get underway today at the second annual ministerial dementia forum, she said.
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