By Alicia Bolton

Alzheimer’s Australia will not support the aged care reform unless it includes strategies and funding to tackle dementia, says Alzheimers Australia president, Ita Buttrose.

Ms Buttrose made the announcement at the Alzheimers Australia National Conference in Brisbane yesterday where more than 800 delegates gathered to discuss the disease and its funding for research.

Ita Buttrose at Alzheimer’s Australia Conference
Ita Buttrose at Alzheimer’s Australia Conference

Governor-General Quentin Bryce said it was a great achievement for the package on mental health however there was no additional funding for dementia in last week’s budget.

“That was a huge disappointment, especially as the number of people with dementia in our country is rising so rapidly,” Ms Bryce said.

“We anticipate that dementia will be the centre stage in the reforms and we firmly believe that dementia is core business for aged care,” Ms Bryce said.

Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler MP, said sustainable funding is necessary and he is passionate about Australia doing better in the field of dementia.

“We all have a shared challenge to lift the profile of dementia and grab the opportunities which are presented to us. The aged care reform is an opportunity to do better than we currently do for family’s living with dementia,” Mr Butler said.

Mr Butler said the Kings College University in Britain surveyed more than a thousand Australians about what concerned them about their country.

“The economy and climate change were one and two, but what was unique about Australia was that thirdly was mental health and fourth aged care,” Mr Butler said.

Two 250,000 grants funded jointly by Alzheimers Australia, Bupa Care and the Wicking trust were also announced at the conference relating to the National Quality of Dementia Care Initiative.

The first grant will go towards the Dementia Enabling Environments Project which will provide guidelines for the creations of dementia friendly environments, including recommendations for the design of aged care homes.

“This project has been composed by Alzheimers Australia WA and will engage architects, designers, aged care organisations and members of the community,” Mr Butler said.

The second project awarded a grant is to the Personalised Care Management Project which will teach family carers new ways to interact with their relatives once they enter a nursing home.

“This initiative is designed to reduce agitation and promote engagement amongst aged care residents,” Mr Butler said.

Director of Dementia Care for Bupa Care Services, Dr Graham Stokes, says the initiative for dementia friendly environments will assist and support families with the transition from home to care.

“Research (will) help people engage with their loved ones once they’re in care,” Dr Stokes said.