Home | Opinion | Quality dementia care must be prioritised in the 47th parliament: opinion
Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe is calling for compulsory dementia education for the aged care workforce. Picture: Daniel Pockett/NewsWire.

Quality dementia care must be prioritised in the 47th parliament: opinion

With an imminent federal election, all candidates must pledge that providing quality dementia care will be placed at the top of the agenda for the ongoing systemic aged care reforms in the 47th parliament.

Dementia Australia has reinforced these messages in the three-and-a-half years since the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety began.

The final report was handed to government 15 months ago and stated “dementia care should be core business for aged care services, and particularly residential aged care services”.

While there has been significant investment and many aged care reforms are underway, there is still much to be done to fulfil the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. 

Work to date has mainly focused at the program and system level, but it is not clear yet that this has achieved the change on the ground that people impacted by dementia are seeking. Some of the systemic issues identified in the Royal Commission still remain in some areas of the sector. For example, workforce issues, both in relation to skill, numbers and remuneration, and amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, may represent barriers to implementation of these reforms.

Dementia prevalence in the community and residential aged care is significant. We know 70 per cent of the almost half a million Australians with dementia are living in the community, and 70 per cent of residential aged care residents have moderate to severe cognitive impairment.

With this high prevalence, quality dementia care must be top of the agenda for every plan, framework, strategy and review of the aged care system reform process, including residential and home and community care.

It’s not just governments that needs to implement change. We need to see a commitment to quality dementia care from boards, directors and governance committees across the aged care, disability and health care sectors by addressing dementia as an ongoing priority.

In the lead-up to the federal budget and throughout the election campaign the messages from people of all ages impacted by dementia have been loud and clear.

Through events, speeches, meetings, networking, letters, emails, e-newsletters, phone and video calls, video messages, media releases, social media and in the media all candidates have been called on to make quality dementia care a priority.

Dementia Australia is calling for support of three crucial initiatives to build on existing measures designed to deliver quality care and inclusion for people living with dementia.   

The three initiatives, outlined in Dementia Australia’s 'Delivering on the Roadmap for Quality Dementia Care', are focused on the introduction of compulsory dementia education for aged care workers, the establishment of a national dementia palliative care program and renewed funding for the award-winning Dementia-Friendly Communities program.

John Quinn, who is living with dementia, said the Dementia-Friendly Communities Program "has changed my life and tens of thousands of other Australians. It has given me hope.”

People impacted by dementia need the reforms to start making a difference now. Delivering quality dementia care isn’t yet core business across our aged care system and, without question, it needs to be.

People living with dementia, their families and carers have told us what they need, and Dementia Australia is committed to seeing through a transformation that improves the quality of care and support for people impacted by dementia. 

We know from our work and broad consultation with people living with dementia, their families and carers, that if we get quality care right for people living with dementia then there will be quality care for all. 

Maree McCabe AM is chief executive of Dementia Australia.

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One comment

  1. We just need Aged Care Workers to be trained and registered full stop!!!!! in which dementia care is an essential component. It not just putting RNs on duty 7/24 hours per week that will make difference, it is the care workers who provide most of the direct care, ensuring they have the knowledge and skills to do care for people with dignity and safety, something we are no where near achieving currently, this government should hang their heads in shame for allowing this dysfunctional system to continue without any real systemic change.

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