Experiences shared recently during the two-part ABC Four Corners program, Who Cares?, echo many of the stories Dementia Australia hears from people living with dementia, their families and carers, and shine a spotlight on a sector in urgent need of reform.
Dementia Australia CEO, Maree McCabe said unfortunately the themes of overuse of anti-psychotics, under staffing and the lack of training are not new.
“The sheer numbers of respondents and stories the contributors told cannot be ignored,” Ms McCabe said.
“What we are seeing on Four Corners is devastating for the residents, the families and everyone impacted by these revelations.
“We know there are thousands of aged care staff in Australia committed to providing high quality care and we acknowledge them for their professionalism and the care they provide to those in care, however the system in many instances is letting our most vulnerable people down.
“As the national peak body advocating for the rights of people, of all ages, living with all forms of dementia, we have a responsibility to act for all those impacted.
“It is evident there are systemic deficiencies and challenges now in staffing, education and in the capacity to provide the quality of care people living with dementia and all people accessing aged care services deserve,” Ms McCabe said.
More than 50 per cent of all those in residential aged care in Australia are living with dementia.
A large number of those receiving aged care services are living with multiple health conditions. For example, heart disease, diabetes, or pain is common with most over 65s living with dementia having two or more chronic conditions and most over 75s having three or more.
“There needs to be a fundamental shift in the approach to dementia healthcare education – not only is serious investment in training a must but dementia specific qualifications should be introduced,” Ms McCabe said.
“We would not allow people receiving treatment for cancer or other chronic diseases to be cared for by staff with no understanding of those conditions yet currently people living with dementia are often in the care of well-meaning but under qualified staff doing their best to manage complex care needs.”
Dementia Australia continues to call for the introduction of quality standards around dementia, increased dementia training levels and qualifications and a funding framework to support these initiatives.
The newly announced Royal Commission into Aged Care and the inquiries that have preceded it are indicative of the Federal Government’s commitment to aged care.
“Urgent action is needed to address these challenges for all those accessing the system now and to plan for the increased demand into the future,” Ms McCabe said.
“Australians need to have confidence that when they, their families and loved ones are a client of aged care that they will be treated with the utmost respect, provided with the best health care system supports, along with a team of staff who have current dementia training, knowledge and qualifications.
“The importance of staff understanding when to escalate care to dementia specialist teams like Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service and Severe Behaviour Response Teams must be a crucial element of all dementia training,” Ms McCabe said.
Glad to see the Federal Government established a Royal Commission into Aged Care. We were so luck that mum was in an aged care home that staff were able to handle residents with dementia and provide the care they required, however, the issues raised in the Four Corners report and what CEO of Dementia Australia has stated in this article I witnessed at times at the home, and that is no fault of staff, that is the way the nursing home was run.
Too little; too late! Dementia training has to start much, much earlier than Aged Care PD Training. Severe behaviour challenges are frequently faced by home carers still struggling alone to understand the chaos happening in the middle of the night. I read that Sth Korea and Singapore include Aged Care Courtesy in Primary school education programs.
My mother has vascular dementia and lives in an Opal aged care home. The staff are great but there are not enough of them. As my 98 year old mother hides her problems, staff tend to leave her to fend for herself with dressing, showering etc. The family have had numerous meetings with staff and management but nothing has changed. The home has also opened their previously locked dementia wing so residents with significant needs wander around the home, go into other residents rooms and often steal things. My mother has to lock her door every time she leaves the room. I agree about the lack of training as these wandering residents are roaming into areas where staff do not know how to handle them.