Aged care whistle-blowers a wake-up call

Dementia Australia CEO, Maree McCabe said unfortunately the themes of overuse of anti-psychotics, understaffing and the lack of training are not new.

“The sheer numbers of respondents and stories the contributors told cannot be ignored,” Ms McCabe said.

“We know there are thousands of aged care staff in Australia committed to providing high quality care and we acknowledge them for their professionalism and the care they provide to those in care however the system in many instances is letting our most vulnerable people down.

“As the national peak body advocating for the rights of people, of all ages, living with all forms of dementia, we have a responsibility to act for all those impacted.

“It is evident there are systemic deficiencies and challenges now in staffing, education and in the capacity to provide the quality of care people living with dementia and all people accessing aged care services deserve.”

More than 50 per cent of all those in residential aged care in Australia are living with dementia.

A large number of those receiving aged care services are living with multiple health conditions. For example, heart disease, diabetes, or pain is common with most over 65s living with dementia having two or more chronic conditions and most over 75s having three or more[1].

“There needs to be a fundamental shift in the approach to dementia healthcare education – not only is serious investment in training a must but dementia specific qualifications should be introduced,” Ms McCabe said.

“We would not allow people receiving treatment for cancer or other chronic diseases to be cared for by staff with no understanding of those conditions yet currently people living with dementia are often in the care of well-meaning but underqualified staff doing their best to manage complex care needs.”

Dementia Australia continues to call for the introduction of quality standards around dementia, increased dementia training levels and qualifications and a funding framework to support these initiatives.

The newly announced Royal Commission into Aged Care and the inquiries that have preceded it are indicative of the Federal Government’s commitment to aged care.

“Urgent action is needed to address these challenges for all those accessing the system now and to plan for the increased demand into the future,” Ms McCabe said.

Dementia Australia is the national peak body and charity for people, of all ages, living with all forms of dementia, their families and carers. It provides advocacy, support services, education and information. An estimated 425,000 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach more than 1.1 million by 2056. Dementia Australia is the new voice of Alzheimer’s Australia. Dementia Australia’s services are supported by the Australian Government.

[1] Multi-morbidity in Dementia: A 21st Century Challenge’, Sube Banerjee, Professor of Dementia, Brighton and Sussex Medical School, UK

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