New Zealand’s rapidly growing Alzheimers and dementia community has welcomed the new Government’s focus on the aged care sector, particularly its interest in supporting people with early onset conditions and its plans to provide additional funding for care and dementia beds.
There is no cure or treatment for dementia, which, in total, affects around 200,000 New Zealanders, including care partners and close family. The increasing prevalence of this health condition and our aging population, means dementia is likely to affect almost every Kiwi family in coming years.
The chief executive of Alzheimers NZ, Catherine Hall, says the National/NZ First Coalition Agreement proposals are very welcome, and she is keen to work with the Ministers of Health and Seniors.
“They have rightly highlighted some significant areas of concern in the aged care and dementia sectors that need addressing urgently.”
Ms Hall says the dementia community has already created the Dementia Mate Wareware Action Plan, which, if adopted by Government, will immediately help to deliver many of the aged care outcomes listed in the Agreement.
“It provides a blueprint for managing the looming dementia crisis and, as such, will relieve pressure on both the health system and the aged care sector,” Ms Hall said.
In its briefing to the incoming Minister, Alzheimers NZ is also urging Government to provide funding of $127.3 million over three years (2024-2026) to the community-based organisations providing support services to Kiwis living with dementia.
Ms Hall says nearly 40,000 families can’t access these services now because they are under-funded.
“The better and longer we can support more people to live at home, with dignity, and not in expensive care, the better for them and for the ‘system’,” Ms Hall said.
Alzheimers NZ also wants Government to develop an over-arching health strategy to better care for New Zealand’s rapidly ageing population.
Ms Hall said the three actions proposed by Alzheimers NZ are very much in keeping with the Coalition Agreement requirements. They will benefit the country significantly by:
- Reducing the number of people living with dementia in future.
- Providing better and more equitable support for those with dementia now.
- Relieving pressure on the health system.
- Reducing the future cost of dementia to government.
“The dementia challenge is going to get much worse as our population ages quickly and dementia numbers increase at unprecedented rates.
“What we’re asking for is well within the margin of error in the annual health sector budget, but the impact for many thousands of Kiwi families would be immeasurable.”