Dementia as National Health Priority welcomed

Making dementia a National Health Priority will assist stakeholders across Australia to work together and “deliver the right support at the right time for people with dementia and their carers,” said HammondCare’s Dementia Centre Director, Colm Cunningham.

“The cost of care is a significant challenge and with dementia as a national priority there is a need for service providers to consider how they use their resources to better serve the person with dementia,” said Mr Cunningham. “We need to consider the journey of someone with dementia and reshape our services if they do not meet their needs.In welcoming the decision by Australian Health Ministers, Mr Cunningham cautioned that better dementia outcomes involved more than much-needed additional expenditure.

“The focus on hospital care is critical in this process as a hospital admission can be disruptive and negative for a person with dementia.

“A person with dementia can be moved up to six moves in one admission to hospital. The International Dementia Hospital Hub is just one of our approaches to sharing best practice and informing how we change and develop our services,” Mr Cunningham said.

Another issue was access to diagnosis which “allows the person with dementia and their family to plan for now and the future.”

In announcing the Health Ministers decision, Minister for Ageing Mark Butler said that there were 280,000 Australians living with dementia and by 2050 that figure would rise to more than 1 million.

“This presents major challenges for health and aged care services,” Mr Butler said. “Spending on dementia beyond 2060 is set to outstrip that of any health condition - we expect dementia spending to top $80 billion by 2062-63,” Mr Butler said.

Australia now has nine National Health Priorities. The first priority areas, set down in 1996, were cardiovascular health, cancer control, injury prevention and control, and mental health. Diabetes was added in 1997, followed by asthma in 1999, arthritis and musculoskeletal conditions in 2002 and obesity in 2008. Dementia has joined them in 2012.

HammondCare’s Dementia Centre is committed to promoting excellence in dementia care and is a leading provider of best-practice training, consultation and resources.