Concern for dementia care

Ingrid Williams

Ingrid Williams

Aged services worried about cuts to funding

The managing director of a Bendigo aged care facility was in Canberra on Wednesday to meet with the government over cuts to funding for dementia sufferers.

Ingrid Williams is the head of Elm Aged Living in Flora Hill and is also the president of Leading Age Services Australia.

Ms Williams joined aged care leaders from across the nation to voice concern about cuts to the "dementia and severe behaviours supplement".

She said the government supplement of $16.50 per individual per day was due to be axed as of July 31 this year - a move causing widespread concern about quality of care.

"A lot of providers have been using that money for specific dementia related programs. The care provided is different to other people in aged care. It's specialised training for staff and specialised accommodation."

"To suddenly cut funding from the sector is going to create the risk of services and accommodation not being able to be provided in the future." She said the greater Bendigo and Loddon Mallee regions would experience a significant increase in numbers of dementia suffers in the next 25 years.

She said Bendigo already had a shortage of beds for dementia patients.

"What the community of Greater Bendigo is relying on is that aged care providers like myself will develop and build these facilities."

Ms Williams said research showed that dementia patients needed to be cared for in small groups with specially designed accommodation.

She said the government did not consult with the aged care industry before it made the decision to cut funding.

"What we really want to do is work in consultation with the government to find an alternative solution, that’s why we’re here. How we can work together to come up with an alternative to stopping the funding altogether."

"We need to be heard more. I think that's the thing. We need to keep talking to them so they realise the impact of the decisions they’ve made."

Chairman of Leading Age Services Australia Marcus Riley said the sector was "speaking up for vulnerable people".

"We are desperately worried that if the government goes ahead and rips this funding away from people with disturbing behavioural and psychological symptoms that this could contribute to an unsafe environment for all residents and staff."

He said the removal of the supplement was the latest in a series of ad hoc funding decisions threatening to undermine the industry's ability care for 180,000 older Australians.

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