More must be done to care for people with dementia

Labor has welcomed the announcement of Severe Behaviour Response Teams to assist older people living with dementia as a first step, but warns the measure is too little and too late.

Shadow Minister for Ageing Shayne Neumann said the Abbott Government’s response is inadequate and long overdue.

“The Abbott Government has finally responded to the dementia care crisis it created after eight months of calls for action from the Labor Opposition and the aged care sector,” said Mr Neumann.

The Abbott Government axed the $16 a day Dementia and Severe Behaviours Supplement (DSBS) without warning in July 2014, which was paid to approved aged care providers to assist with the additional costs of caring for people with severe behavioural and psychological symptoms associated with dementia.

“Today’s announcement is a welcome first step in addressing the serious issue of dementia care; however, it is no panacea and it has taken the Abbott Government six months to make this announcement. They’ve been preoccupied naming knights and back-flipping on empty promises when they should have been focusing on the real challenges facing Australia’s future.

“The capped funding announced today means that many older people suffering from severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia are going to miss out on care they desperately need,” said Mr Neumann.

“The Abbott Government needs to understand that currently when it comes to dementia care demand is greater than supply.

“The Abbott Government must do more,” Mr Neumann said.

Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Ageing Helen Polley said she was concerned that the Severe Behaviour Response Teams were unproven.

“I am concerned with the Abbott Government’s move away from a preferred model of case management to an unproven quick fix,” said Senator Polley.

“The Government needs to understand that dementia is here to stay and the disease is on the rise. This program will not be able to provide adequate support to residential aged care providers. There are many questions which remain unanswered. Will these SBRT’s be available on a 24/7 basis? Will they be deployed on an ad hoc basis or a needs basis? Will the teams be large enough to service a particular area?” Senator Polley said.

“Aged care and dementia are very real issues facing older Australians and they need a responsive approach with genuine planning and investment.

“The Government has ripped hundreds of millions of dollars out of aged care and wants to rip thousands of dollars out of the pockets of aged pensioners every week with their planned cuts to pensions.

“It is time for the Abbott Government to stop ripping money out of the aged care sector and make the necessary investments for a dementia friendly future,” Senator Polley said.