Costs of dementia can be reduced

Tuesday 23 January 2018

The cost estimates to care for a person living with dementia in residential aged care, released by Flinders University today, reaffirms Dementia Australia’s call for the urgent need for ongoing, systemic, aged care reform.

The annual cost of $88,000 to care for a person living with dementia in residential aged care can be reduced by improving the training of our workforce and applying dementia-friendly principles in the community, throughout the aged care sector and in hospitals.

Maree McCabe, CEO Dementia Australia said with 425,000 people living with dementia in Australia this research contributes compelling data to the national estimate that the cost of dementia care to our economy each year is more than $15 billion annually.

The Flinders University report found that 94 per cent of the costs were attributable to residential care on the basis of the standard funding model used, known as the Aged Care Funding Instrument (ACFI).

"The current funding model encourages aged care providers to focus on high-care needs rather than encouraging and supporting a broader, psychosocial approach to care and support,” Ms McCabe said.

“The ongoing review of ACFI, combined with a more holistic approach to residential care, will enable the focus of support to become a more positive, proactive model potentially reducing the residential care costs.

“We know from our own research and internationally that person-centred care can reduce the use of antipsychotics and other drugs.

“Greater investment in training and education across the acute and aged care sectors in the management of behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia will result in improved quality of life for people living with dementia and decrease the length of stay in hospitals.

“Building awareness of dementia-friendly principles will also support people in their communities to remain meaningfully engaged and potentially stay in their homes for longer.

“This research reinforces the need for more strategic investment in dementia services to avoid an escalation in costs that will be unsustainable.”

The research released today by Flinders University reported the annual cost estimate was based on a study of 541 individuals across 17 aged care homes.

For the full results of the study ‘Direct health and residential care costs of people living with dementia in Australian residential aged care’, visit https://doi.org/10.1002/gps.4842. This project was funded through the NHMRC Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre of which Dementia Australia is a partner.

The Dementia Australia research and data can be found at www.dementia.org.au/statistics.

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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 436,000 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach almost 1.1 million by 2058. 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

www.dementia.org.au

Media contacts: Christine Bolt 0400 004 553 christine.bolt@dementia.org.au

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