$70m pa to better support people with severe dementia symptoms


Some of the most vulnerable Australians living with dementia will benefit from a world-first national network of specialist care units, thanks to an annual $70 million investment from the federal government.

The innovative program will involve more than 30 specialist care units being established for people exhibiting severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.

The units will provide much needed specialist care for people who can’t be appropriately cared for by existing mainstream residential aged care services.

Announced jointly by Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care, Ken Wyatt, and Health Minister Greg Hunt earlier this week, the program has been developed through extensive consultation with dementia experts, clinicians, state and territory governments, dementia peak groups and carers of people living with dementia.

The Specialist Dementia Care Program will be rolled out in phases, starting with a prototype expected to be operational by mid this year.

A tender process early 2019 will select up to 15 units to be operational by early next year, subject to evaluation outcomes, with the remaining sites to be selected in 2021.

The Specialist Dementia Care Program will include:

  • establishment of at least one specialist care unit in each Primary Health Network, generally comprising nine beds, located within existing residential aged care facilities
  • a needs-based assessment framework to ensure care is delivered to those most in need
  • person-centred and multidisciplinary care delivered in accordance with 10 Specialist Dementia Care Program service delivery principles
  • formalised arrangements for regular specialist clinical input and review
  • transitional support that focuses on reducing or stabilising symptoms, with the aim of enabling the person to move to a less intensive care setting
  • regular reporting on client outcomes, independent evaluation and a focus on identifying and sharing best practice in specialist dementia care.

A tender process in early 2019 will select up to 15 units to be operational by early 2020, subject to evaluation outcomes, with the remaining sites to be selected in 2021.


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