We’re back in full swing with 2024. Firstly, we’ve welcomed the Minister of Health Hon Dr Shane Reti and Associate Minister of Health Hon Casey Costello to the sector and look forward to working with them.
We met with the Associate Minister in January to introduce her to the sector alongside Dementia NZ, following our Briefing to the Incoming Minister (BIM). While it’s early days, it was great to have the opportunity to brief her on the sheer size and scale of the dementia mate wareware challenge Aotearoa New Zealand faces, and the pressing urgency with which we need to respond as a country.
On that subject, it was good to see the much needed provisions the current Government have made for the sector in their coalition agreement with NZ First. The Government’s focus on the aged care sector is crucial to the work we do.
But the proof will be in the pudding.
It was encouraging to see the commitment for change, but I will admit we were disappointed not to see any immediate action in the 100-day plan. It’s incredibly disheartening to still see so many people struggling here in Aotearoa New Zealand and nothing being done about it.
Our kaumātua or elders are the wisdom-bearers of our people, and our ageing population is only set to increase – so we can’t afford to let the issue go. People living with dementia mate wareware and their whānau are still unable to access community services because those services are simply not available.
If Government doesn’t take any action it’s only going to get worse – then we’re all left in a situation where even more people aren’t getting the help and support they desperately need.
That’s why Alzheimer’s Disease International’s recently released Attitudes To Dementia: World Alzheimer Report 2024 survey on the stigma around dementia mate wareware is so important. Please do take part if you can!
We already know what needs to change. The experience and knowledge of the sector here in Aotearoa New Zealand has already been harnessed in our Dementia Mate Wareware Action Plan. The Plan outlines exactly what we, as a sector, think needs to happen and what action needs to be taken.
We already know what the solutions are, and now we need the funding so we can put these into action. While the interest from Government and the Associate Minister is a start, what we really need is a firm commitment to fund and fully implement the Action Plan – and we’ll continue to advocate for this in 2024.
These actions will reduce the number of people living with dementia mate wareware in future, provide better and more equitable support now, relieve pressure on the health system and reduce the future cost to Government.
We need to see this initial interest from Government turn into something that has a real impact for people and their whānau living with dementia mate wareware. Now is the time.
We’re looking forward to seeing the Associate Minister at our upcoming Repositioning Dementia: Seeking solutions one-day event in March in Auckland and online – please join us!
Let’s hope this is the start of a relationship with a Government that leads to meaningful change for people and their whānau living with dementia mate wareware that’s so desperately needed. We’ll keep knocking on Government’s door until we get it.