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Intouch : In Touch Issue 74
crisis An estimated 279,000 older Australians will be without a residential care place or community care package by 2050, according to a new report from Access Economics, released in August by Alzheimer's Australia. Current government policy will result in a dramatic undersupply of residential and community aged care places, according to the 'Caring Places' report, unless the planning of aged care takes into account the increasing numbers of over-85s and people with dementia. "The projections in the report suggest that if we are to avoid this tragedy, the supply of community packages and residential places over the next 40 years would have to double the average annual increase in places over the past four years," said CEO of AlzNSW, The Hon. John Watkins. Dementia drives demand A major driver of the increase in demand for care places is the dramatic increase in the number of people estimated to develop dementia, from 257,000 in 2010 to about 1 million by 2050. John said a fundamental reform of the aged care system and a comprehensive response to the dementia epidemic was needed in the 2011 Federal Budget. "The undersupply of aged care places and the under- funding of community care will mean greater carer stress, and older Australians being forced out of their homes early into a nursing home sector where there are no beds," he said. Lynne Pezzullo, Director of Access Economics, said that the current planning for aged care does not reflect the huge predicted growth in the prevalence of dementia or the increasing numbers of Australians living to the age of 85 and beyond. "The government is not taking into account the fact that Australians are living longer," Lynne said. "Instead the government bases the number of community aged care packages and residential care places on the number of Australians over the age of 70." Government action needed "Decisions are needed in the 2011 Budget to address the undersupply of community packages and residential care places if increased supply is to be in place by 2020, and before the numbers of people with dementia and the over 85s increase significantly," explains Lynne. One aspect that needs action is providing choice in funding options for aged care, according to Lynne. She suggests Australia's current healthcare funding scheme, through Medicare together with the private sector, as a model. Lynne also emphasises the importance of revising the current planning of aged care services, so that services increase to match the growth of the older population and the increasing prevalence of dementia. "Based on the growth in the prevalence of dementia, community care packages and residential care places would need to grow by 25 per cent (over 220,000 A new report released by AlzNSW found that, without extensive reform of the aged care system, more than a quarter of a million older Australians will not have access to care places in 40 years -- and dementia is driving demand. Dementia drives aged care Planning points A comprehensive plan to address the dementia epidemic is urgently needed, says AlzNSW CEO John Watkins, with measures that ensure: • expanded quality dementia-care services • timely diagnosis of dementia as part of the reform of primary care • action to reduce the dangers of acute care for people with dementia by ensuring staff are aware of a patient's cognitive impairment • greater funding of psycho-geriatric services so that those people with both acute psychiatric conditions and dementia receive appropriate care • increased dementia research funding, including dementia risk reduction in health prevention programs to reduce the future prevalence of dementia 12 In touch Spring 2010 www.alzheimers.org.au Research
In Touch Issue 75