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What will the national dementia data plan do?

There is no single data source that tracks how many people are diagnosed or are living with dementia each year, says the National Dementia Data Improvement Plan, a 10-year policy designed to increase the data available about dementia patients.

Delivered by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) in September, the plan aims to improve outcomes for those diagnosed with dementia and their carers by collecting data over the next decade to inform future policy development and research.

The report says data about carers of dementia patients, which includes aged care workers and informal carers, is also slim, which is problematic when drafting policy, service provision and planning.

Better data on dementia care could help healthcare professionals learn how to reduce risk of dementia, identify where increased training is needed and know where overall care could be improved.

Of the plan's seven objectives, the first is to 'tackle stigma and discrimination' about dementia, which has been listed by the community as a huge limiting factor for those diagnosed to live well, especially for those not living in residential care homes.

The plan says it will address stigma through increasing awareness about the disease and building more inclusive communities and environments for people living with dementia.

Objective six is 'building dementia capability in the workforce', which the plan says will be achieved through a skilled, dementia aware aged care workforce and organisational culture that supports quality dementia care.

AIHW also released data this Wednesday that found that people living with dementia who move into residential aged care after a hospital stay are less likely to be readmitted to hospital within one year than those who return to living in the community.

AIHW spokesperson Louise Gates said the study, which researched how dementia impacts the hospital and aged care system, shows how important data and research into the disease is.

"Having a better understanding of how people with dementia access health services and move between hospitals and residential aged care can contribute to improvements in the health and aged care systems and policies to better meet the needs of Australians living with dementia," she said.

The national plan will be revisited next year for a 'review of data gaps and priorities to ensure the plan is aligned to meet the National Dementia Action Plan data reporting needs'.

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