Australia

Advocates demand better care, more options for Australians with dementia

A paper released from Dementia Australia has made baseline recommendations support, respect and ultimately, improved quality of life of dementia sufferers. Source: AAP

Australians with a lived experience of dementia say their care needs are missing from new aged care standards adopted by the Morrison government.

Advocates want the Morrison government to help improve the quality of life for Australians living with dementia.

On Monday, advocates delivered in a report to Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck which offered a dementia-specific response to all eight of the Morrison government's new aged care quality standards.

Richard colbeck
Dementia Australia wants a commitment from Senator Colbeck that he will add the organisation's findings to current aged care standards.
AAP

"Support, respect and ultimately, improved quality of life," for dementia sufferers, as well as examples of "gold-standard" care has been outlined as a baseline within the paper.

Dementia Australia wants a commitment from Senator Colbeck that he will add the organisation's findings to current standards, before the royal commission into ageing delivers its own recommendations.

Reducing stigma

Maggie Jones, 71, whose late husband Gordon Bower experienced Lewy body dementia, said understanding what people with dementia are seeking is particularly important in aged care.

"They can lose the ability to be able to communicate themselves,” she told reporters.

“So it's terribly important that we have people who are skilled and trained in being able to communicate with them and who involve the families as partners in their care."

He said he looks forward to a time when more people with dementia can continue living in the community, because they have the support they need.

"There will be no real difference between having dementia at home and not having dementia," he said.

"I think the ultimate bit is to break down the barriers, understanding what dementia is."

More respect for Australians living with dementia

After meeting with the minister, chief executive Maree McCabe is hopeful he will heed the group's advice.

"The minister was extremely positive, and he shared about the royal commission and the work that is being done to elevate standards in aged care," she told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.

The new aged care benchmarks are a vast improvement on previous models, Dementia Australia's executive director of customer engagement Kaele Stokes told AAP.

But she said they fail to account for the difference between standard and dementia aged care.

"We need to be approaching it from the point of view of the consumer, what they want rather than just clinical outcomes," she said.

Its survey of people with dementia and their families found that no matter their culture, race or sexuality, they all wanted one thing: respect.

It comes just months after an aged care royal commission heard the struggles of dementia patients in South Australia.

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