As Australia heads to the polls, health policy has been a key election issue for the major parties. The Coalition and Labor’s focus on the health and wellbeing of all Australians has been welcomed by Dementia Australia.
Policy announcements by the Coalition within the aged care sector include providing grassroots funding to deliver social benefits, as well as developing and sustaining the workforce that provides aged care services and progressing innovative models of care that support older members of society.
Labor’s statement of commitment to improving the care of Australians living with dementia is a pleasing recognition of the 447 000 Australians currently living with dementia and the 1.5 million people involved in their care according to Dementia Australia Chair, Professor Graeme Samuel AC.
“At last the focus in this election is on what can be done now and not pushed aside while awaiting the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety,” Prof Samuel said.
“While we acknowledge the spotlight on aged care and dementia by the Royal Commission is essential, as a chronic health disease, there is much that can be done now to improve the lives of all people impacted by dementia.
“We know from multiple recent reports, inquiries and Dementia Australia’s own research what needs to be done.
“We don’t need to wait until after the Royal Commission to start improving the system and the lives of the individuals, the families and the carers impacted.”
Dementia Australia CEO, Maree McCabe said dementia was the largest health and social challenge facing Australia.
“It is the second leading cause of death of Australians and the leading cause of death of women in this country,” Ms McCabe said.
“Ensuring a timely diagnosis, reducing the stigma, increasing awareness and support services for people living with dementia, their families and carers are Dementia Australia’s priority areas and activity can be started immediately in all these areas to make a difference to the lives of everyone who is impacted now and will strengthen the system to support generations to come.
“The appropriate skills mix in aged care is just as important as staffing numbers when caring for people living with dementia.
“Making the system less complicated, with better access to home care packages is an essential step in the right direction, especially when it comes to supporting people’s choices to stay at home, as long as possible, and engaged in the community around them.
We look forward to seeing this focus on dementia continue well after the election and will eagerly work with the next government to implement the transformational change needed in Australia to ensure people living with dementia, their families and carers are receiving the best, quality dementia care.”