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Minister should find out about dementia for himself



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MINISTER SHOULD FIND OUT ABOUT DEMENTIA FOR HIMSELF

D em en ti a is one of the most pressing problems facing our nursing homes and hostels, as well

as those aged people living a t home, said Mr Ray B r a i th w a it e , Shadow M in ist er for Community

Services and Aged Care, in F e d e r a l P ar li am en t today. Y e t the Minis te r responsible for Aged

Care, Mr P e t e r Staples, re f u s es to go and see for himself the e x t e n t of the problem.

Mr B r ai th w ai te was replying to a s t a t e m e n t by the Minister on the M an ag em en t Performance

Rev ie w of the Masonic Peace H av en Nursing Home in Launceston, Tasmania.

The review was u n d e r t a k e n a t the re qu es t of the nursing home, following a cutback in

funding by the F e d e r a l Gove rnme nt, and a t h r e a t by the home to close down if it was forced

to reduce the qu al ity of care to its p a t i e n t s as a consequence.

The Masonic Peace Hav en o p e r a t e s a specialised d em en tia un it of 48 beds, plus a specific

nursing home r es p it e unit of 12 beds. It was built just t h r e e y ea rs ago, w ith Commonwealth

approval and Commonwealth c ap it al funding, as a special purpose nursing home for d em en tia sufferers. The Masonic Lodge it se lf c o n tri bu te d $2m tow ard s the ca p i ta l costs.

’It is obvious t h a t the p r e s e n t Gove rnme nt, the Minister and the D e p a r t m e n t fail to

ap p r ec ia te the addi tio nal care re qu ire d for supervision of d e m e n ti a p a t i e n t s , and th a t this

puts the cost g r e a t l y in excess of any subsidy proposed for th e ir care, said Mr

B ra i th w ai te . ’ 1

The Minister is w as tin g time on an 1 8 - m o n t h survey into the e x t e n t of the problem of

dementia, when he should be doing something about it now. In any case, the figures are

alre ady available from nursing homes and hostels and pr ojec tions have b e e n mad e for his

D ep a r tm e n t, said Mr B r ai th w ai te .

If one looks a t the cu r r en t prev al an ce r a t e s for m o d e ra te and s e v e r e d e m e n t i a t o g e t h e r with

population projections over the n e x t 10 and 20 years, the p e r c e n t a g e inc rea se is alarming.

Whereas the to t a l A u s t r a li a n pop ula tion is expec ted to increase by 24% o v e r the next 20

years, the elderly pop ula tion will increase by 44 %. The inc rease in the d e m e n t e d

population will be eve n g r e a t e r . It is es ti m a t e d in one study to be 69%, and in an o t h er to

be 77%.

It can also be concluded th a t demand for services will increase in the n e x t 20 years, said

Mr Bra ithwaite. And these services will nee d e x t r a funding, no t cutbacks.

Speaking on the impact of the G o v e r n m e n t’s funding a r r a n g e m e n t s on nursing homes in

Victoria, the Shadow Minister said t h a t a study carri ed out by the Vict oria n A ge d Services

P e a k Council had found th a t a v e r a g e r nursing home income p e r w ee k had d e c r e a s e d by up to

22%; nursing home pr ocedures r e la tin g to communication with re s id e n t s and working conditions for nurses had d e t e r i o r a t e d ; activities available to r es id en t s had decreased;

and th a t meal quality, continence man age me nt, reh ab i li t at i o n pro gr ams and s a f e t y has

d e t e r io r a t e d .

The Minister should visit some nursing homes and hostels and see for himself the problems

caused as a direct re s u lt of his G o v e r n m e n t’s funding policies, especially in the a r e a of

dem entia , said Mr B r ai th w ai te .

CANBERRA, 31 August 1989 Tel: (062) 77 2812

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY LIBRARY MICAH