Home | Industry+Policy | Cost of residential care for people with dementia underestimated

Cost of residential care for people with dementia underestimated

The cost of providing health and residential care for people with dementia in Australia is potentially higher than previously estimated.

That’s according to research that employed a predominantly bottom-up approach as opposed to a top-down, population costing approach, which in the past has provided a lower estimate of costs.

Researchers from the Flinders University team of the NHMRC Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre collected data from 541 individuals living permanently in 17 Australian care facilities in four states.

Using individual-level health and residential care utilisation data, they found that the average annual cost of providing residential and health care for people living with dementia was approximately $88,000 per person in 2016. The majority of the total whole-of-system care cost (94 per cent) was for provision of residential care.

The team said this dollar figure is significantly higher than estimates obtained with other perspectives or approaches and reflects the significant economic impact of dementia on Australian society.

Lead author on the paper and co-researcher Dr Emmanuel Gnanamanickam from Flinders University said this estimate is still conservative and does not take into account the cost of informal care and other indirect costs.

Gnanamanickam said the new findings are significant for informed, reliable policymaking.

“The bottom line is that there is a tremendous economic impact of dementia on Australian society and when you look at it in conjunction with increasing dementia prevalence and also cost of care, there is quite a reason for every aspect of society, whether it be policymakers or various care providers or individuals or governments to be concerned and potentially reconsider the current approach to dementia care.”

Given that the study shows 94 per cent of the costs are for residential care, he suggested looking at alternative models of care and improving access for care at home.

Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the top stories in our weekly newsletter Sign up now