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Major political parties finally recognise dementia Post Cover Image

Labour’s election 2020 health policy says the party will ‘work with the (dementia) sector to implement the Dementia Action Plan with a focus on prevention, support for whānau to navigate support services, building community acceptance, and strengthening capability in the sector’.

And just four days before the election National promised seniors it would ‘implement a dementia care action plan’ if elected. Among other promises in their policy National also pledged to establish a Seniors Commissioner and review the power of attorney legislation, both areas that we also support.

The dementia sector drafted the Dementia Action Plan as a blueprint for a government response to the rapidly growing number of New Zealanders being diagnosed with dementia.

Successive governments have ignored the dementia facing New Zealand, so it’s good to see both the main parties, one of which will form the next government, begin to address the issue.

Labour’s policy is certainly a good start and we’re cautiously optimistic it will translate to action, but what the thousands of New Zealand living with dementia actually need now is a firm commitment to actually fund and implement the plan. We need to see dollars set aside and timelines confirmed.

At the time of writing this we hadn’t had the opportunity to review National’s policy in detail, but we hope they have made a strong commitment to actually funding and implementing a plan as soon as possible.

There are approximately 70,000 New Zealanders living with dementia and that number is expected to nearly triple in coming years as our population ages.

As of now, there is no national response plan to deal with dementia, which is a major health issue – the most serious after Covid-19.

Other positives in Labour’s policy is the promise to establish an Aged Care Commissioner as an independent, formal watchdog across the aged care sector, and the promise to implement recommendations from the Health and Disability Review.

Read the policies here