MEDIA RELEASE: COTA Australia welcomes new specialist care program for vulnerable Australians with dementia

Australia’s leading senior’s advocacy organisation, COTA Australia, has welcomed the Government’s allocation of $70 million per year towards the creation of 30 specialist care units to support people living with dementia.

COTA Australia Chief Executive, Ian Yates, said the new program will provide much needed support for older Australians and their families who are severely affected by dementia and who currently don’t receive appropriate care in other residential aged care facilities.

“The new specialist care program announced by the Government today, which will see at least one specialist care unit rolled out in every Primary Health Network across the country, is a good step forward in ensuring people with dementia receive the tailored specialist care they deserve and are entitled to,” Mr Yates said.

“Our country’s scientific and medical researchers are busy working to find a cure to this truly awful disease, with the government having previously allocated $200 million over five years for the Boosting Dementia Research Initiative.

“However, in the meantime, it is absolutely essential that people living with dementia and their families are provided access to quality dementia care, including tailored, specialist care for those residents who need additional support, so they have the highest quality of life possible.

“Research has shown that the “severe behaviours” attributed to dementia are often actually the result of people with dementia being in preventable pain that can be alleviated. Another key cause can be the residential care environment when it is poorly designed for people with dementia, and if staff are not appropriately trained to provide an optimum care environment.

“Over the last year, we have heard harrowing stories of people with dementia being physically and chemically restrained in aged care facilities, which is a complete degradation of basic human rights, and reflects poor training and standards of care,” said Mr Yates.

COTA Australia urged the Government to invest further in building an aged care workforce that is able to provide appropriate care for people with dementia in both home care and across all residential facilities.

“These new specialist care units are a really important supplement to basis care for people with higher level needs but should not be an excuse for good dementia care being provided across all of aged care.

“All older Australians, including those people living with dementia, deserve high quality care with the maximum possible degree of choice and control over their care and support.”

Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Bronte Kerr 0411 676 269

COTA Australia is the peak policy development, advocacy and representation organisation for older Australians, representing COTAs in every State and Territory and through them over 500,000 older Australians.