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Govt's Dementia Review To Go To Council

The Christchurch City Council is likely to ask the Government if it can be involved in its review into dementia services.

The Community Services Committee today decided to ask the full Council to write to the Minister of Health, Annette King, and the Associate Minister of Health, Ruth Dyson, saying that the Council believes it has sufficient expertise which would be useful to the full-scale Government review of dementia.

The review will include residential care, primary health care, community services and caregiver services leading to the development of a national strategy for dealing with dementia.

A report to the committee by a Council policy analyst, Mary Richardson, and Cr. Ingrid Stonhill, says that the Council has an interest in the issue because of its concern for and role as advocate for the well-being of the people of Christchurch.

"Dementia is a problem that affects a substantial number of people and has major social and economic implications," the report said. The Council is a provider, funder or part-funder of a wide range of social and community services that contribute to the health and well-being of residents," says the report.

Dementia constitutes a public health problem of considerable magnitude and is most common among the elderly.

About 38,000 people in New Zealand suffer from the disease and the figure is expected to double in the next 20 years, says the report. The Council report says there is a need for a national strategy on dementia and the Council wishes to be involved for various reasons, including its concern for its residents, its expertise in housing for the elderly and the Council's community-based services.

During discussion at today's committee meeting, Cr. Stonhill said the City Council was probably the only Council in New Zealand to have a right to contribute to the review because of its expansive social initiatives and policies.

She said the Council had strategies for children, youth and the Third Generation but not for those with dementia, who could be termed the Fourth Generation. "We would welcome a government review and will co-operate fully with this process. It is really important that we have a strategy in place to perhaps promote preventative measures as well as reactive ones," she said. Cr. Sally Thompson said the Council was in a "really good position to give an overview of the problems of the elderly" and the Deputy Mayor, Lesley Keast, wanted assurances that the Council's contribution to the review would not override the efforts of other organisations working in the same field.

Cr. Alister James said the Council would naturally support all other organisations.

Ends

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