Dementia urgently needs to be core business in aged care

The second ABC Four Corners program ‘Who Cares?’ continued to shine a spotlight on a system in need of wide ranging reform.

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said dementia needs to be core business in the aged care industry.

“What we are seeing on Four Corners is devastating for the residents, the families and everyone impacted by these revelations,” Ms McCabe said.

“In these instances the system has failed our most vulnerable.

“On behalf of all Australians we need to fulfil on our duty of care to the estimated 436,000 people living with dementia, especially when they need us the most, and maintain the dignity, respect and choice in care that all Australians deserve.

“We know there are thousands of aged care staff in Australia providing high quality care and we acknowledge them for their professionalism, compassion, empathy, dignity, and the care they provide.

“This attitude and culture is integral to the provision of high quality care.

“However, it is clear these qualities are not always present, and, when absent, we see cases such as were shown on Four Corners tonight.

“Australians need to have confidence that when they, their families and loved ones are a client of aged care that they will be treated with the utmost respect, provided with the best health care system supports, along with a team of staff who have current dementia training, knowledge and qualifications.

“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 and it is clear the system has flaws.

“With more than 50 per cent of people living in residential aged care living with dementia, and many more in early or undiagnosed stages, it is essential that developing and implementing national quality standards in dementia care is escalated to a high priority level in all national and state planning.

“These national quality standards in dementia care need to define the expected levels of care in a meaningful way for every stage at which a person or their family are accessing the system.”

Dementia Australia is calling for a systemic focus on education and building the skill level of the workforce to manage the multiple complex conditions of many clients in care.

“The importance of staff understanding when to escalate care to dementia specialist teams like Dementia Behaviours Management Advisory Service and Severe Behaviour Response Teams must be a crucial element of all dementia training,” Ms McCabe said.

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.

“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 436,000 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach almost 1.1 million by 2058. Dementia Australia is the new voice of Alzheimer’s Australia. Dementia Australia’s services are supported by the Australian Government.

When talking or writing about dementia please refer to Dementia Language Guidelines.

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