Funding Recognises Dementia As Significant Challange
Additional Funding Begins to Recognise Dementia As One of New Zealand’s Most Significant and Growing Heathcare Challenges
Alzheimers NZ welcomes today’s announcement by the Minister and Associate Minister of Health that the Government is investing additional funds to support people affected by dementia as part of a wider funding package for services for older people.
“Dementia already affects around 50,000 people in New Zealand and that number is set to triple by 2050 as the population ages, with baby boomers now coming through to the ages when dementia is most frequently diagnosed. It is critical that NZ is well-positioned to meet the needs of the growing number of people affected by dementia, with more and more people having a family member or friend who is diagnosed with some form of dementia, most commonly alzheimers” said Susan Hitchiner, Chair of Alzheimers New Zealand.
In 2012 Alzheimers NZ launched the wecanhelp campaign (www.wecanhelp.org.nz) to build public awareness and understanding of dementia, and to encourage people to see their doctor so they can get the help they need.
“This new funding will contribute to further initiatives to raise awareness of dementia and of the services that are available to support people affected by dementia – and to remove the fear that is often associated with this disease. The additional funding to better support earlier detection of dementia – a major goal for Alzheimers NZ – is important, so that people can take charge of their situation, make decisions about their care while they remain able, and receive the care and support they need.
The funding for additional home support services is also welcome as we know that most people with dementia want to stay in their own homes for as long as possible, as is funding for dementia related training and the residential care subsidy for dementia units both of which recognise the specialist and intensive nature of the care needed by people affected by dementia,” Ms Hitchiner said.
Susan Hitchiner said that Alzheimers New Zealand welcomes Government’s focus on dementia but there is much still to do to so that people affected by dementia have the support and assistance they need and to reduce the impact of dementia on NZ communities. In particular, there is a need for a much stronger focus on services that better support family carers, and on research.
Alzheimers NZ’s National Dementia Strategy 2010-2015 strongly advocates for:
• Better cross sector collaboration and commitment from the major organisations in the dementia community, including Government, District Health Boards and community organisations, in order to provide effective services now and into the future.
• Recognition of dementia as a national health priority, which has recently occurred in Australia, as a pivotal step in enabling the voices of people with dementia and their families to be heard and acknowledged, and acted upon in policy development and community action.
• Further investment in diagnosis and disease management, dementia-specific services appropriate for the wide range and growing numbers of people affected by dementia and better support for families and friends who provide much of the care.
Alzheimers NZ also advocates for the development of a stronger research evidence base to support planning, monitoring and innovation in early diagnosis and the provision of support for people with dementia – and research into both prevention and cure. Susan Hitchiner also said that “Cure, in particular, still seems to be too far away. To be serious about cure, we must begin real investment sooner rather than later, with all investment in research, support services and awareness raising focused on the goal of reducing the impact of dementia on all communities in New Zealand.”