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Intouch : In Touch Issue 74
6 In touch Spring 2010 www.alzheimers.org.au In May, the NSW State Government appointed a new Minister for Ageing and Minister for Disability Services, The Hon. Peter Primrose. The Minister has worked for the Red Cross, the Department of Health and the Department of Youth and Community Services, and served on the 1983 Richmond Report, which advocated the devolution of NSW's long-term care from institutions to community-based arrangements. He also served on Campbelltown City Council, and as Chair of the Macarthur Health Services Board. Mr Primrose was elected MP in 1988, entered the NSW Legislative Council in 1996, served as Government Whip and, in 2007, was elected President of the Legislative Council. He has been a member of many parliamentary committees and is also the Minister for Youth and Volunteering. Professor Julian Hughes was in Australia in June for a packed national lecture tour on behalf of Alzheimer's Australia. Professor Hughes, from the UK, said governments and society need to dramatically change attitudes to dementia in order to tackle the enormous challenges it brings. "There is little sign that governments worldwide have grasped the enormity of the impact that dementia will have on the health care system or the everyday ethical issues that need to be addressed in dementia care, including diagnosis, restraint and end-of-life issues," he said. "A key test of governments' willingness to reduce the future numbers of people with dementia and provide better care is funding for dementia research. "And on that score they are failing as funding for research into dementia is disproportionately low compared with other chronic conditions." How dementia funding stacks up He said combined research funding on dementia in Australia was just $22 million for 2007--09, compared with $160 million for cancer research. In the same period spending on research for cardiovascular disease was $110 million and $60 million was spent on diabetes. "Something that is as harmful as dementia requires good quality research, which, in turn, will support and encourage good quality care," Professor Hughes said. Dementia is already the third leading cause of death in Australia, behind heart disease and stroke, and there are an estimated 257,000 people in Australia with dementia. Due to the ageing population, that is set to soar to one million by 2050. By the 2060s, spending on dementia is set to outstrip that of any other health condition. "Investment in research is a fundamental ethical consideration in the appropriate care of a person with dementia," Professor Hughes said. "Organisations, institutions and governments must face up to the dementia challenge, not for mere practical reasons, although these are important, but because this is a human moral necessity. "These challenges are ethical challenges at the individual level, but they also pose social, legal and political challenges." Speaking from experience Professor Hughes is a consultant in Old Age Psychiatry and Honorary Professor of Philosophy of Ageing with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust and the Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle University in the UK. He was a guest speaker at a seminar on ethics in dementia care at NSW Parliament House in June. Other speakers included President of Palliative Care NSW Peter Cleasby and Clinical Nurse Consultant at the Prince of Wales Hospital Anne Meller. AlzNSW Director Nick O'Neill was the MC of the event. Professor Hughes visited each state and territory in Australia on his very popular lecture tour, Ethical Issues and Decision-Making in Dementia Care, for Alzheimer's Australia. Rise to the challenge During his recent Australian lecture tour, Professor Julian Hughes called for an increase in dementia research funding to match the future impact of the disease. New Minister for Ageing News
In Touch Issue 75