Leading senior’s advocacy body, COTA Australia, welcomed today’s commitment by Opposition Leader, Hon Bill Shorten MP, to improving the quality of life and care for Australians living with dementia and investing further in research to find a cure.
In a speech at the University of Sydney this morning, Mr Shorten nominated tackling dementia as the defining health and aged care challenge of the next 20 years.
Chief Executive of COTA Australia, Ian Yates, welcomed the focus, and the in-principle commitments of the Opposition Leader to make Australia the best country in the world for people with dementia to live and to be a global leader in finding a cure.
Mr Yates said “Potentially one in three Australians born today will be diagnosed with dementia – there is an economic, as well as a social imperative to better address the issue.”
“More than 500,000 Australians will have dementia by 2025 and in the next five years it is predicted dementia will become the leading cause of death for all Australians,” said Mr Yates.
“While our country’s scientific and medical researchers are working to find a cure, it is imperative that people living with dementia and their families are provided access to the highest quality of life and care.”
COTA Australia agrees that older Australians with dementia need better quality and more suitable aged care; to be supported by better trained and supported staff, and a change in our community attitudes, both to caring work and to older Australians as a whole.
“Research tells us that so-called ‘severe behaviours’ attributed to dementia are often the result of dementia sufferers being in preventable pain that can be alleviated, or in unsuitable environments. We need much better standards of training for staff in many aged care services to ensure this does not continue,” said Mr Yates.
“Residential aged care is not the only option for Australians living with dementia, and with the right level of support, many more people can and should receive care in their own homes, as they prefer.
“Currently, more than 53, 000 Australians are on waiting lists for home care packages, and many thousands more are receiving a package of support below the level for which they have been assessed.
“Improving the supply of home care packages is a matter of urgency and the biggest challenge facing both sides of politics, as it will not be cheap in the short term, even though there will be savings later,” Mr Yates said.
“This must be a key commitment in aged care policies of both Government and Opposition. COTA Australia is ready to work with both sides of parliament to resolve this issue and to further reform the aged care system to give greater choice and control to people with dementia and their families.”
“Aged care and tackling dementia needs to be a much higher priority in our community, our politics and government budgets.”
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.