Alternative support option for those with dementia

February 10, 2015 | Aged Care Management

The Dementia and Severe Behaviours Supplement was set to provide critical support for the growing population of elderly Australians with Alzheimer’s and other symptoms of Dementia.

However, support is now being expanded through a new alternative program – one announced by the Assistant Minister for Social Services, Mitch Fifield.

In a recent release, the minister explained how this new initiative follows consultation with the aged care sector, through the Ministerial Dementia Forum and the Aged Care Sector Committee. A total of $54.5 million has been allocated for the next four years to establish Severe Behaviour Response Teams (SBRTs).

“SBRTs will be a mobile workforce of clinical experts who will provide timely and expert advice to residential aged care providers that request assistance with addressing the needs of people with the most severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia,” Minister Fifield said.

The primary function of these teams will be visiting residents with extreme behaviours and assisting care providers by teaching best practice ways to actually support the residents.

This new workforce is predicted to begin preliminary operations later this year following a tender process. Minister Fifield explained that the SBRTs will work with the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Services that currently function within Australia.

Professor John Kelly, the CEO of Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA), explained in a new report that the idea of these teams has merit, but it’s still not known whether they’ll actually be able to provide the necessary support. He noted that rural and remote areas especially could see a shortfall when it comes to support.

“If this is a city-centric fix to a large problem, it will disadvantage many people with severe behaviours all
across Australia,” Professor Kelly stated.

He went on to explain the origins of this new supplement, and how the need for the funding didn’t disappear when it was withdrawn.

“While it was clear to ACSA and others in the sector that the supplement’s budget would be overspent, there was unanimous support across the sector for the need for greater support for people with severe behaviours.”

Putting support in place for dementia and severe behaviours is now a critical step to ensure the wellbeing of older Australians over the next few decades. With a larger elderly population on the way, there’s going to be a greater number requiring care for dementia.

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