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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1274 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

The facts about dementia are stark, and Mr Cornwell has touched on this. The prevalence of dementia increases exponentially. The rate doubles approximately every five years of age from around 60 years, such that 23.6 per cent of people 85 years and over are affected by dementia.

The actual rate of dementia in the ACT in 1996 was estimated at around 1,300 people aged 65 and over. This had risen to approximately 1,500 by the year 2000, with the greatest proportion of increase in the 85 years and older age group. It is estimated that between 1995 and 2041, dementia in those aged 65 and over will, in the ACT, have increased six-fold relative to total population. Projections suggest that by the year 2041 there will be at least 6,600 people in the ACT with dementia. This is the second largest predicted increase in Australia-an increase of 450 per cent. A significant percentage of these people will be accommodated in long-term residential care. Given these stark statistics, we need to approach the issue of the provision of dementia services with good long-term planning.

Prior to any allocation of these funds, I agree with Mr Cornwell that we need to assess respite needs and determine what is viable and how such funding should be allocated. I also announced in the lead-up to the election that we would undertake an empirical respite needs analysis. I have requested that the Department of Health and Community Care undertake this study as a matter of priority and I understand that the department will be seeking tenders to undertake the work shortly. In fact, they are in the course of doing so.

The ACT government has already commenced service planning to meet current and future needs for sub and non-acute care for the territory. Service gaps have been identified for rehabilitation, older persons' mental health, post-hospitalisation or transitional care and dementia respite services. Rather than continue to plan these services in isolation, a combined feasibility study for sub and non-acute services would ensure a strategic approach to developing a comprehensive territory-wide plan and to meet the needs of our older Canberrans.

A business case to fund the feasibility study and forward design is being considered as part of the capital works budget program in 2002-03-the next financial year. The feasibility study will review existing services and available support infrastructure across the ACT and Queanbeyan and confirm unmet needs before identifying service and facility design options to provide appropriate sub and non-acute care services.

Mr Speaker, the Assembly will be interested in the number of beds for dementia sufferers currently provided in the ACT. I have already provided this information to Mr Cornwell in my answer to his question appearing on Notice Paper No 1 of 11 December 2001. There are at this time 704 approved high care beds and 942 approved low care beds. However, 122 of these beds are not operational. Some people call these beds "phantom beds". So we have only 1,524 operational beds, some 122 short of even the woeful allocation the Commonwealth says we should have. Of these operational beds, only 254

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