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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1993 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 18 August 1993) . . Page.. 2432 ..


Debate resumed from 16 June 1993, on motion by Ms Ellis:

That this Assembly notes the inadequate funding for dementia care in the ACT and support services for carers of dementia sufferers. This Assembly calls on the Government to negotiate with the Federal Government to:

(1)          alter and increase the funding formula for dementia care facilities; and

(2)          provide funding as a matter of urgency for increased dementia care facilities in the ACT which include adequate provision of respite care beds for dementia sufferers usually cared for in a home environment.

MR BERRY (Minister for Health, Minister for Industrial Relations and Minister for Sport) (11.04): Madam Speaker, ensuring that people who suffer from dementia and their carers are appropriately supported within the ACT community is a critical issue facing us all. As Ms Ellis has acknowledged in her report, there is growing community awareness of the problem of dementia in the ACT and of the demands that dementia care is placing on all aspects of our aged care services.

The starting point to understanding the task involved in providing services to people with dementia is an understanding of the symptoms that people with dementia exhibit. These symptoms may include memory loss and language problems; loss of ability to learn; failure to recognise things or people; disorientation; gradual loss of the ability to undertake tasks of daily living; wandering and pacing; changes in mood or personality; and disturbed behaviour, including outbursts, depression, violence, apathy, being active at night, use of obscene or abusive language, stealing, being resistant to care and urinating or defecating in unsuitable places.

The demands for services for people with dementia are likely to increase over time. Dementia affects one person in 25 at age 65, one in five at 80 years, and one in four of those older than 80 years. Due to the general increase in the ageing of the population over the next two decades, the dementia population in the ACT is expected to increase quite rapidly. From 1991 to 1996 there is expected to be a 26 per cent increase in the number of ACT residents with dementia. However, in each of the next two decades, that is 1996 to 2006 and 2006 to 2016, there will be a 60 per cent increase in the number of ACT residents with dementia.

The current provision of services for people with dementia and their families is divided between the Commonwealth and the State or Territory governments. Both governments have recently undertaken a number of initiatives to improve these services. In 1985 the Commonwealth commenced a 10-year program of reforms to aged care. The reforms centred around the nursing homes and hostels review and the establishment of the home and community care program. HACC services include domiciliary nursing, home help, handyhelp, delivered meals, aged day care, respite care and many others. This reform program was recently reviewed in the mid-term review of aged care, as it was known.

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