The latest World Alzheimer Report warns that countries like New Zealand are unprepared for a surge in dementia cases and need to take urgent action to deal with the issue.
Released today, the Report says that with 50% of dementia cases undiagnosed and not enough focus on services and support, countries like New Zealand will struggle to cope.
The report was researched and authored by a team led by Prof Martin Prince of the Global Observatory for Ageing and Dementia Care in collaboration with the Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU), at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).
The Report’s key findings recommend a radical change to the way healthcare is delivered to people living with dementia by:
rebalancing towards primary and community care, with specialists providing guidance and support, in order to increase capacity in the healthcare system
placing more emphasis on explicit clinical or care pathways to establish and monitor standards of care
having a greater focus on case management to co-ordinate and integrate services and support for people affected by dementia
The overall physical health of people with dementia also needs more attention, especially their nutrition and risk of falls and infections according to the Report.
Health care for people with dementia in New Zealand is currently fragmented and inconsistent according to Alzheimers NZ Chief Executive, Catherine Hall.
“While New Zealand has a Dementia Framework that is trying to scale up the primary care response to dementia, it is applied inconsistently across District Health Boards and has yet to focus on implementing a consistent case management system”, she said.
Responding to the Report’s findings she said “New Zealand’s approach to this looming health care challenge is patchy at best.
Five years on from the 2011 Report, New Zealand still hasn’t adequately resourced primary care to lift the rates of diagnosis. Three years on from the 2013 Report we still do not have sufficiently funded dementia services in the community or education and support for carers.
As this Report says, we urgently need health care and support for people affected by dementia that is continuous, integrated and holistic and we are running out of time” she said.
Late diagnosis and delayed access to continuous and holistic care and treatment also places an additional burden on families.
Champion for Dementia, Kerry Prendergast said her late father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease only 3 years before his death, delaying his access to proper support and services.
“We did not have the benefit of the services and support that would have made a real difference to his ability to live well with his dementia, and to stay engaged in his community for as long as was feasible” said Kerry.
“I would like to see New Zealand address the areas identified in the Report, and move from frameworks to action”, she said.
Unlike Australia, the United States and the UK, New Zealand does not have a National Plan for Dementia.
“A National Dementia Plan is the mechanism for turning frameworks into action because it has specific accountabilities, actions and timeframes", says Catherine Hall.
"Without one, New Zealand is being left behind and will continue to struggle to meet the needs of people with dementia, their families and their carers”, she said.
Download the report (PDF)
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