Dementia Australia has welcomed the Federal Government’s $5 billion dollar commitment to the aged care sector in its budget, which will ensure better access, better quality and overall better ageing for all Australians.
Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said the budget included many measures that would significantly improve the aged care experience of millions of Australians.
Applauding the $1.6 billion towards 14,000 higher level home care packages announced by the Federal Government today, Ms McCabe said this was a welcome move for thousands of people still waiting for higher level care for their complex needs, many of them living with dementia.
“We welcome this injection of funds for aged care, and it is encouraging to see the funding for higher-care packages to enable people to remain living in the community,” Ms McCabe said.
“This funding will go towards helping thousands of Australians who are on the waiting list to receive home care packages, with some people waiting more than 12 months to receive support. Further work is needed to address the support needed for the remaining tens of thousands of Australians who will remain on the waiting list.”
Dementia Australia is also pleased to see additional funding measures to support urgent maintenance and infrastructure for regional providers as well as $105 million to enable better access to aged care for our first elders.
“It is great to see funding specifically allocated to rural, regional and remote aged care and to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander to cultural-sensitivity projects,” Ms McCabe said.
“We are also very pleased to note that the budget includes measures that will address elder abuse in our communities, including the development of a National Plan to address elder abuse.”
The $5.3 million allocated for dementia innovation, which will benefit people living with dementia, is a welcome initiative.
“Dementia Australia has been spearheading technological innovation across dementia care, especially in the area of virtual reality and immersive educational experiences,” Ms McCabe said.
“This approach allows health care professionals and carers the opportunity to enter the world of the person living with dementia and gain greater empathy into their experience.”
Ms McCabe said Dementia Australia was particularly pleased to note the new funding commitment of $7.4 million to trial navigator services to assist people seeking information about aged care to make decisions that are right for them.
“Our experience has shown that early intervention supports can be crucial in enabling people to remain in the community, and prevent admissions to hospital and presentations to emergency departments,” she said.
The budget includes many measures that Dementia Australia has called for including establishment of the new aged care safety and quality commission from 2019.
The commission will be supported by other significant measures such as the $50 million for a Quality Care Fund, $32.6 million to enhance the regulation of aged care provider quality, and $8.8 million to improve the transparency of information on aged care provider quality.
“While we welcome the additional $5 billion in funding that will flow into aged care over the next four years, Dementia Australia would like to see a focus on government better supporting vulnerable seniors such as people living with dementia across the country.
“The gap in this budget is that dementia is not recognised as core business. More than 50 per cent of residents in aged care have a diagnosis of dementia and many more remain undiagnosed,” Ms McCabe said.
Dementia is one of the largest health and social challenges facing Australia with more than 425,000 Australians living with dementia.
There are more than 100 types of dementia, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common. Currently, an estimated 250 people are joining the population with dementia each day.
The number of people living with dementia in Australia is expected to increase to more than 1.1 million by 2056 in the absence of a significant medical breakthrough.
Dementia is the second leading cause of death of Australians and the leading cause of death among Australian women.
In 2018, dementia is estimated to cost Australia more than $15 billion and the total cost of dementia is expected to be more than $36.8 billion by 2056.
“We welcome the additional funding that has been provided from the government for aged care and health, but dementia must be explicitly acknowledged and recognised as a public health challenge,” Ms McCabe said.
“Without such action, dementia is taking an enormous toll on individuals, our community, our health and aged care systems and our economy and it will continue to do so.
“Building the community’s capacity to address dementia now will save billions in lost productivity for the years to come as well as improving the welfare of millions of Australians, who are impacted by dementia.”
Dementia Australia will continue to work with people with dementia, families and carers, government and other stakeholders to ensure quality dementia supports and services are embedded into service planning, delivery and workforce education ensuring people living with dementia are supported to live the best quality of life possible.
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