LASA pushes for dementia supplement changes

July 29, 2014 | Aged Care Management

Aged care peak body Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) has always been on the forefront of industry changes, and has come forth yet again to ensure dementia funding is assured over the next few years.

LASA CEO Patrick Reid wrote to the Department of Social Services (DSS) on 4 July, requesting that around half of the presently allocated $200 million for dementia research funding be redirected, and positioned as a substitute for the recently cancelled dementia supplement.

This amount was confirmed in the recent May budget, under health expenditure, in order to help the 320,000 Australians currently suffering from the disease. Research from the DSS also found dementia to be the third leading cause of death within Australia.

The Dementia and Severe Behaviours Supplement, cancelled on 26 June, was to ensure elderly Australians within aged care facilities would have been able to receive the necessary care.

“The decision to cancel the program is a huge blow to the provision of essential services to those living with the most severe and debilitating symptoms of dementia,” Mr Reid explained in the letter.

“It is our contention that $95.7 million of [the research funding] be redirected for positive care outcomes for the estimated 3300 people living with severe dementia.”

Others have different thoughts on the matter, with the CEO of Alzheimers Australia Glenn Rees explaining to Australian Ageing Agenda that the funding should not be diverted.

“We regard the $200 million for dementia research as necessary, long overdue and an investment for the future,” Mr Rees said.

While the dementia supplement would have been essential for older Australians, so too is the research funding committed in the budget. Over the next few decades, any advances in care or treatment will no doubt go a long way as a result of the $200 million.

For now at least, aged care providers will have to progress without the funding supplement, and make other preparations for the care of dementia sufferers.