'Inadequate' care structures for younger people with dementia: Senate submission

Existing care structures for people with Younger Onset Dementia (YOD) are inadequate, with the ‘gaping need’ being provision of appropriate accommodation options, says HammondCare’s submission to an ongoing Senate inquiry.

HammondCare chose to focus on the care and accommodation needs of younger people with dementia in its submission (link below) to “The adequacy of existing residential care arrangements available for young people with severe physical, mental or intellectual disabilities in Australia” Senate inquiry.

Improper aged care placement too common

HammondCare says aged care services for people with younger onset dementia are inappropriate and if requiring full-time residential care, there is a “…woeful inadequacy of age-appropriate options.”

The submission argues that for the nearly 24,000 Australians under the age of 65 with a diagnosis of dementia “…community respite and support services are limited; and too often younger people with dementia are improperly placed into residential aged care facilities.”

Younger people with dementia require “fundamentally different” models of care to traditional models the aged population. As part of its submission, HammondCare proposes an alternative model for the future based on its experience operating Australia’s first YOD specific residential accommodation.

Innovative cottage leads to further learning

The 15-bed Streeton Cottage was opened in 2010 in Horsley, near Wollongong, and has had a significant impact on the lives of many younger people with dementia who would have otherwise “fallen through the cracks”.

The learning from Streeton has led to HammondCare advocating a case management, carer support and community engagement model. When residential accommodation was need, it would be provided in smaller apartments to maximise individual care, combined with community engagement including physical exercise and possible employment, as well as flexible respite services.

“A preferable configuration is to locate YOD residential care accommodation in a residential house or apartment separate to the aged care facility, but still drawing resources from it. This proximity may also provide some opportunity for the younger person to be employed to work at the residential care campus.”

Individualised engagement, activity

The submission argues that community engagement should be individualised, and shaped according to the person’s existing connections within their local community.

“Meaningful daytime activity must also involve physical activity appropriate for younger people with dementia, particularly men. If possible, community engagement should also help the younger person to continue in some form of work, whether volunteer or paid.”

The submission stresses the importance of flexible respite services, and proposes the use of motels as a more age-appropriate, time away from home respite experience.

“Overall HammondCare’s most vital lesson learnt from Streeton Cottage is the need to vigilantly ensure that care is delivered in an age-appropriate manner and not according to an aged care paradigm.”

The Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs is due to report on its findings by the end of June.

Senate submission: younger people's residential care Senate submission: younger people's residential care (176 KB)