Leading seniors advocacy body COTA Australia today welcomed the announcement by Minister Mitch Fifield of measures to support people with dementia experiencing severe challenging behaviours in residential aged care.
COTA Australia Chief Executive, Ian Yates, said he was very pleased that the funding that had been previously allocated to the Dementia Supplement would be reinstated for severe dementia care.
“There are growing numbers of people living with advanced dementia and many of them live out their end of life in Australia’s aged care facilities,” Mr Yates said.
“People living with dementia are ‘core business’ of aged care and aged care providers have to do much better than most do now in responding positively to their needs. Indeed many behavioural challenges are the result of provider failings rather than resident behaviours.
“For example there is emerging evidence that many so-called ‘severe behaviours’ attributed to dementia are in fact due to dementia sufferers being in preventable pain exacerbated by provider responses that ignore the pain and blame dementia.
“The government needs to encourage providers to deal better with aged care residents who are dementia sufferers.
“Only a small percent of dementia sufferers provide a unique set of challenges for aged care providers in terms of behaviour management and provision of quality care.
“The Severe Behaviour Response Teams is a positive first step in supporting aged care facilities which are challenged by severe behaviours to better address some of these challenges and deal better with their care for people living with severe symptoms of dementia.
“Ensuring these new teams work closely with the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Services in each state and territory will be mutually important to their success.”
Mr Yates said the Government’s commitment to review all existing dementia programs was also welcome and important.
“The critical thing here is to look at the full range of programs and evaluate them in terms of their effectiveness for consumers. Involving consumer organisations centrally in this review is critical to its success.
“The government could also use its control over the allocation of residential and home care packages through the annual ACAR (Aged Care Approvals Round) process to direct priority to those providers who have a good track record of dealing with residents with dementia.”
Mr Yates said COTA looked forward to ongoing consultation with the government as it worked on further initiatives to improve the lives and care of people with dementia.
Media contact: Ian Yates 0418 835 439, Olivia Greentree 0439 411 774.
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.