Dementia NZ Applauds Strengthened Monitoring
Dementia NZ Applauds Strengthened Monitoring of Dementia Units – and Calls for Better Support for Those Living Independently
“A much-needed step in the right direction” is how Dementia New Zealand CEO Paul Sullivan describes the announcement of increased monitoring of dementia units.
Following a report in the NZ Herald about elderly residents being strapped to chairs all day, Dementia New Zealand are thrilled that that the Office of the Ombudsman will now be able to randomly inspect privately-owned dementia units.
However, there’s still work to do. “Some of the treatment in facilities that has been exposed is horrifying. It’s vital that staff in dementia units are trained properly, and treat people with dementia with respect and compassion,” says Paul. “Hopefully this monitoring will help highlight when that isn’t happening, as a first step to solving the issue.”
Yet the way forward isn’t just to train more staff more effectively – it’s also to ensure that those still being cared for by a relative or carer at home are supported to live independently for longer.
“The most important thing we can do is provide ‘care for the carers’ – support that will enable the thousands of wives, husbands, children and friends who care for someone with dementia to look after both the person with dementia and themselves.
“Often, a person with dementia will end up in care earlier than they need to, due to their carer becoming unwell or exhausted. We need to do all we can to ensure people who perform this vital role are adequately supported,” he says.
The kind of support Dementia New Zealand promotes includes the one-on-one keyworker support, carer support groups, socialisation activities and respite care that each of the local dementia organisations, such as Dementia Auckland, provide.
“Our local dementia organisations receive less than half their funding from DHBs or government – and a lack of funding means they can’t always do everything they want to,” explains Paul.
“It’s vital that more funds are allocated to providing better support for carers and people with dementia so they don’t end up in care earlier than needed. This will help ease the pressure on staff at dementia units and ensure better care for the person with dementia.”