Dementia Australia calls on the federal government to provide dementia-specific education to staff and volunteers as part of the announcement of $10 million to the Community Visitors Scheme.
The funding, part of a $1.1 billion package to assist the devastating impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19), will help to ensure that older Australians in aged care are not socially isolated despite visiting restrictions.
Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said dementia-specific education is needed to support the extra staff and volunteer visitors who will potentially be interacting with the more than 70 per cent of people with dementia living in the community, and the 50 per cent of those living in residential aged care with a diagnosis of dementia.
“People living with dementia are one of the most vulnerable groups in society at this time given their ability to understand the current restrictions and its impact upon their levels of engagement may be compromised” Ms McCabe said.
“It is critical that staff and volunteer visitors, who will connect with older people online and by phone, are trained and well-equipped to provide the best possible care for the 459,000 Australians living with dementia.
“In this rapidly evolving situation information and decisions change daily to meet new challenges and there is often confusion about how to interpret this. For people living with some form of cognitive impairment this can create even more uncertainty and anxiety.
“Dementia Australia’s Centre for Dementia Learning is ready to assist with providing dementia-specific education as well as through its work as part of Dementia Training Australia. Consultation with Dementia Advocates, who have the lived experience and knowledge of dementia, inform every area of our business and is central to this approach.
“We look forward to more detail on today’s announcement and working with government to improve the lives and quality of care for people of all ages, living with all forms of dementia, their families and carers.”
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 459,000 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach almost 1.1 million by 2058. Dementia Australia’s services are supported by the Australian Government.
National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500 Interpreter service available (The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government Initiative)