Recently, I was fortunate to both attend and present at the 32nd International Conference of Alzheimer’s Disease International in Kyoto, Japan.
The theme was “Together towards a new era”, and focused on the opportunities we have as a global community to work together to increase awareness of dementia and to support improvements in care and treatment.
I presented on Immersive Technology Driving Consumer Centred Care and facilitated a panel that discussed engaging people with dementia. Both topics spoke to the importance of our focus as an organisation and a key driver for unification - placing people with dementia, their families and carers at the forefront of care.
The conference brought together people with dementia and their carers, researchers and health professionals. It was fantastic to see a number of familiar faces and Dementia Australia consumers presenting their experience and their vision of the future from an Australian perspective.
The content of the presentations was diverse. There was a strong focus on Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of People with a Disability. Canada is one of the first countries that has included dementia.
In the past year, ADI published Access to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) by people living with dementia.
As well as hearing the very latest on global dementia policies and research, we heard about the needs of people with dementia during natural disasters, the specific needs of people with younger onset dementia, and calls from the World Health Organisation for governments around the world to develop comprehensive national dementia plans.
It soon became apparent that speakers and delegates all shared a common vision for the future - identifying better strategies for a timely diagnosis, improving the quality of support following diagnosis, and the development of dementia-friendly communities.
Operating as a unified entity will enable this by making our organisation more agile and responsive, aiding greater collaboration and helping to foster innovation and improvement in services for people with dementia.
The ADI outlined their strategic objectives, all of which resonate strongly with our vision for unification:
- Make dementia a global health priority - the World Health Organisation are releasing a global action plan on dementia in May 2017
- Reduce Stigma - “Remember Me” will be the theme of World Alzheimer’s Month (September 2017)
- Strengthen Membership
- Facilitate and encourage research
- Sustainable funding
It was heartening to see everyone come together, share ideas and insights, and to know there are people across the world working tirelessly towards the same goals as Dementia Australia.
While I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to contribute to our international community, I am happy to be back in Australia!
As many of you will know, we are currently working on the unification of Dementia Australia. Our new model is due to come into effect on 1 July 2017 and I am very excited about the substantial benefits this will bring for staff, volunteers and most importantly people living with dementia, their families and carers.
Unification will allow us to grow our services and programs, extend our reach and make a greater difference to our community. It will strengthen our capacity and capability to improve the lives of all people impacted by dementia, while enabling greater collaboration and helping to foster innovation and improvement in services.
During the past weeks, it has been my pleasure to visit a number of our state and territory offices. During these visits I have spoken to staff members, consumers and key stakeholders, gathering their vital insights to inform the strategic direction of the new entity we are working towards.
Over the coming weeks our unification priorities are to:
- finalise the future client services delivery model
- appoint the Executive team and key unification project roles
- mobilise our unification governance structure
- continue to work with our funding bodies to provide them with an update on our unification
- continue to consult with our state and territory staff and key stakeholders before developing our strategic objectives.
We will continue to operate across Australia and remain committed to improving access to services, including for people living in rural and remote areas. We are also committed to maintaining strong local ties with the communities in which we operate.
Our number one priority during the unification process is to maintain continuity of services for people with dementia, their families and carers.
I thank you for your continued support.
CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER