Dementia Australia welcomes Western Australia Government’s health-focussed budget

Friday 11 May 2018

Dementia Australia has welcomed the Western Australian Government’s investment of $37 billion for health services in the state.

Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said the budget included an investment of $275.8 million to deliver new and upgraded health facilities across Western Australia.

“An investment in the primary healthcare system benefits people living with dementia by helping to provide a more timely diagnosis and early intervention,” she said.

“As the risk of dementia increases with advancing age, people with dementia, including those living at home and in residential care, are frequent users of hospitals and other health care services.

“One in every four people with dementia requires hospital services each year, which is twice the rate for people of the same age who do not have dementia. People with dementia have worse clinical outcomes including longer stays in hospital, higher mortality, and greater likelihood of readmission.” 1

Western Australia has 41,149 people living with dementia and that number is expected to increase to 143,957 by 2056 without a significant medical breakthrough.2

Dementia costs Western Australia $1.65 billion (total direct and indirect costs) per year and is projected to cost $5.42 billion by 2056.

It is the leading cause of death among Australian women and the second leading cause of death for Australians overall.

Ms McCabe said that in 2017 there were more than 8,000 Western Australians living with dementia outside of Perth, and the $182.3 million allocated by the Government in its budget for the Patient Assisted Travel Scheme would greatly benefit people living with dementia in remote locations.

“Dementia can be an isolating disease, particularly for those living in remote locations that can be removed from accessing hospital care,” she said.

“This funding will allow for equal access to public hospital services and allow people living with dementia in remote locations easier access to the public health network.

“Dementia often goes unrecognised or undocumented, which can contribute to the needs of the person with dementia not being met, so we welcome the additional investment in strengthening hospital care, and we will explore further with the Government more effective ways to embed dementia specialist education across this sector.”

“Dementia is a neurodegenerative condition that increasingly diminishes a person’s capacity to make informed decisions.”

Although the continued investment in health initiatives in the Western Australia is notable, Ms McCabe added that it was vital to embed specific funding and supports for people living with dementia in the broader health system as it was a pressing social and public health challenge.

Ms McCabe said while additional and sustained funding of health and aged care services in Western Australia was welcome, it remained essential for increased funding for dementia-specific services to ensure that people who live with dementia live well, for longer, and with the dignity and respect they deserved.

“Dementia is everyone’s business and desperately requires well-funded support and services, responsive to local needs,” she said.

“Sustained funding of our health and aged care sectors will in the long-term benefit people who live with dementia in Western Australia.”

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Dementia Australia is the national peak body and charity for people, of all ages, living with all forms of dementia, their families and carers. It provides advocacy, support services, education and information. An estimated 425,000 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach more than 1.1 million by 2056. Dementia Australia is the new voice of Alzheimer’s Australia. Dementia Australia’s services are supported by the Australian Government.

National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500

Interpreter service available

(The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government Initiative)

Dementia is a National Health Priority Area

Media contacts: Monika Boogs, 0407 019 430 / monika.boogs@dementia.org.au; Christine Bolt. 0400 004 553 / christine.bolt@dementia.org.au

When talking or writing about dementia please refer to Dementia-Friendly Language Guidelines.

1Alzheimer’s Australia (2012), Dementia Care in the Acute Hospital Setting: Issues and Strategies. Accessed Online
2 The National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling NATSEM for Alzheimer’s Australia (2017) Economic Cost of Dementia in Australia 2016-2056.