Featured in The Sunday Times
Warren’s letter to the editor is in full below:
Your Feb 28, 2021 article Aged-care abuse “secret” for month, calls out the absurdity that Priority Two incidents of low impact elder abuse in nursing homes do not need to be reported to the industry watchdog for up 30 days. If not this, what is? Answer: broken bones, head injuries, death.
With the once in a generation Royal Commission into Aged Care out, let’s make “Aging with Dignity, and in Community” our Number One Priority. Sad tales of neglect, malnutrition, chemical and physical restrictive practices are shameful. All levels of government must own this challenge.
New federal funding, reporting standards and staffing ratios will only mask an issue which State and Local governments must also help address. Funding for primary health networks and GP’s for early detection of dementia, better research translation into new models of care and care settings and more funding to the frontline day and overnight respite is needed. Joy, meaning, growth, autonomy, identity and connectedness are Quality of Life indexes which all governments can fund.
The entire retirement living, residential care and nursing home industry must adopt a “value care” mindset as more care is delivered in the community. One of the important values to the 48,000 Western Australians living with dementia and their 200,000 carers is to remain connected to their community.
Pleasingly, the new planning guideline and scheme amendment by the WA Government calls for aged care accommodation to be integrated within local communities, serviced by adequate transport networks and located close to health and community services. This will be a significant catalyst for long term planning and infrastructure investment by the State and our local councils.
Our MP’s can do much to establish Memory Cafes or create Dementia Friendly Communities as the number of older Australians is set to more than double over the next 40 years. Raising the reverence and respect, and reducing the stigma, for older Australians also starts with every one of us.
A 2017 report on the Economic Cost of Dementia in Australia 2016-56, in the absence of a significant medical breakthrough, forecast more than 6.4 million Australians will be diagnosed with dementia in the next 40 years, at a cost of more than $1 trillion.
Assistive Technology in the home, digital health and wearables can support safer and more independent living to detect frailty, predict falls, monitor nutrition, movement and exercise. The current aged care and health care environment is demanding innovation for better care and financial sustainability.
Internationally we are seeing a societal shift through better planned urban living, adaptive and caring neighbourhoods with emerging housing typologies having a positive impact on the health, well-being and social engagement of users, particularly connectivity with the local community.
Quality of life principles must be our Number One priority to enable older Australians to age well and live close to where their children work, and their grand children attend school, university and play sports.
Let’s report on that!
Warren Harding is an Adjunct Professor, Curtin Faculty of Health Sciences and Chair of Alzheimer’s WA