15 May 2015

What is the future of dementia care?

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Did you know: Every week 1,700 new cases of dementia occur in Australia?*

With the rate of people living with dementia increasing at an exponential rate, aged care providers are preparing to ensure their organisation has the capacity to provide optimal care.

Helga Merl at integratedliving is at the forefront of dementia care, I caught up with Helga to get her thoughts on the issues at hand.

In your opinion, why is Dementia at the forefront of the public agenda now?

There are a number of reasons why dementia has been identified as the 9th National Health Priority area and come to the forefront of the public agenda in Australia.
In recent years we have seen a large rise in the numbers of people with dementia in Australia. This because we are better, but not fantastic, at diagnosing dementia, the projection rates are more refined and realistic and finally that our population is ageing. With the biggest risk factor for dementia being increasing age, as our Australian population ages and our population pyramid is turned on its head, the number of people with dementia rises exponentially. Currently that equates to someone diagnosed with dementia every 6 seconds in Australia or 175 000 Australians diagnosed annually.

There is still no cure for dementia and with our ageing population and advances in medical science that have decreased mortality rates of other conditions, dementia is now the third leading cause of death in Australia.

The profound impact that dementia has on the individual, carers and families and the community means that those living with dementia and the general community expect that the multidisciplinary team understands dementia and can help those seeking information and supports. People with dementia and their families and carers wish for an early and timely diagnosis of dementia. Early diagnosis allows for the trial of therapy and medical treatments for reversible conditions. Consumer Directed Care plans and Advance Care Planning can be made whilst decision-making capacity remains. The individual and family can adjust, through provision of information, education, counselling and access to services, which may also delay symptom progression and institutionalisation. Again it is expected that the multidisciplinary team can mobilise these supports.

Dementia now is everybody’s business. Over half of all consumers of Aged Care Services have a diagnosable dementia. Dementia needs to be at the forefront so that Aged Care services understand the imperative of building the capacity of their organisations, environments and staff to provide best practice dementia care as core business, not an optional extra.  

How important will building CDC principles into dementia care be for the future of the aged care sector?

CDC has changes the face of community care and will do the same in residential care when it is implemented there. The principles of CDC sit well with the principles of good dementia care – identifying goals and needs, giving choice and control in what service types and how services will be delivered empowers people living with dementia. The principles of participation, reablement and wellness essential for ensuring CDC will now underpin all contemporary dementia models of care.  These are all positive steps forward for providing better Consumer Directed dementia care. The challenge for the Aged Care Sector is how principles and ideals of Consumer Directed Care translate into service delivery models. We have developed some innovative models to do this at integratedliving Australia and other organisations are also leading the way.

Part two of this exclusive interview will be online next Friday morning.

What do you think? Please comment below.

Are aged care providers ready to care for the influx of people living with dementia?

Statistics courtesy of Alzheimer’s Australia 

Having unfulfilled her childhood dream of becoming an international spy, Ellise is loving her position as Conference Production Manager at Akolade. Her favourite thing about the role is that it allows her to stay abreast of the latest news across a variety of industries while constantly learning from experts in their field. 

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