Community Healthcare / Health & Healthcare

Dementia ‘is not a future issue, it is a present reality’

Shayne Neumann MP

The Hon Shayne Neumann MP

We had the pleasure of having The Hon Shayne Neumann MP, weather the cyclonic conditions in Queensland, to address last week’s National Dementia Congress. As the Shadow Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Shadow Minister for Ageing, he gave an enlightening speech about the current state of dementia in Australia and the government and opposition’s initiatives to battle the challenges of an ageing population; workforce; change and reform; and regulation and quality.

In his speech titled “The Politics of Dementia“, he highlighted:

Reframing “ageing” and “dementia”:

  • Before we can truly change the public perceptions of dementia, we have to deal with the terrible truth about ageing.
  • Ageing represents a host of great achievements and is the only path we can take to accomplish the goal of living longer.

Achievements and opportunities

  • In September 2014, the Panel for Positive Ageing, chaired by the ever-youthful Everald Compton, released the Blueprint for an Ageing Australia.
  • The Blueprint outlined that ageing should not be framed as a problem or even an economic and social burden.
  • The Blueprint addresses obstacles which need to be addressed, such as the absence of adequate workers compensation for people aged over 65.
  • As people approach the age of 50, they need to assess what they actually see themselves doing for the next phase of their working life.
  • Older Australians need not feel guilty for their longevity.
  • It is important we do not penalise those who have successfully lived longer.

Dementia and disability

  • We need to recognise the overlap between aged care and disability care.
  • The National Disability Insurance Scheme will draw some of its workforce from the same pool as the aged care industry.
  • Dementia will soon be the leading cause of disability in the nation.
  • There may be room for group homes, particularly for those with dementia.
  • As we “age in place”, residential care facilities will become more and more specialised in geriatric conditions including chronic conditions, frailty and dementia.
  • As they change, the workforce will need to change.

Workforce

  • One of the biggest challenges in aged care is ensuring we have the workforce to meet the ever-increasing demand.
  • In particular, we have appropriately skilled, and fairly remunerated professionals to deal with the challenges of dementia.
  • We need a national approach; national coordination, quality and consistency in training.
  • We must address remuneration.
  • The Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation reported that nurses working in aged care are paid less than those working in hospitals, generally.
  • For a Registered Nurse Level 1, there is a difference on average of almost $210 per week or 17% nationally.

Department of Human Services

  • Aged Care is not the career of choice for many young graduates. It should be.
  • The demand for carers will increase by 40% over the next five years.
  • The workforce we have now will need to increase – in numbers, in skill base, in leadership and management.
  • There are numerous barriers and impediments to engaging older Australians in meaningful work but the benefits are considerable.
  • Australia needs to be the place where ageing is more than a better alternative to death.
  • Australia has the chance to be world-renowned for ageing well. There will always be challenges.

Dementia: The Supplement. The Saga.

  • Dementia is an ongoing challenge that is not going away soon.
  • When it comes to dementia, demand outstrips supply. What happens when the money runs outs?
  • This is not a future issue. It is a present reality.
  • We cannot treat those living with dementia as simply a collection of symptoms or issues to be managed.
  • They are individual people who deserve to be treated with dignity, care and respect.

A Review of the Research: Strait Islander People and DementiaIndigenous

  • The Alzheimer’s Australia’s Review of the Research into Dementia in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people outlined that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people experience dementia at a rate of 3 to 5 times higher than non-Indigenous people.
  • The Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Centres is a terrific model which provides culturally sensitive care and outreach services, by Indigenous people, for Indigenous people.
  • This model could be applied to the provision of aged care services for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Read the full speech here:

We are delighted to announce that The Hon Shayne Neumann will be speaking at the upcoming Community Work Conference in July, which will focus on the theme, “Working together in the community“. We hope to see you there!

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