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NZ’s dementia sector: “Hardly a wellbeing Budget for us” Post Cover Image

Napier man, Alister Robertson, says the lack of any proper funding in the Budget for the proposed Dementia Mate Wareware Action Plan is really disappointing and concerning.

“This Budget announcement is very underwhelming.  It’s hardly a wellbeing Budget for New Zealand’s massive dementia community,” said Robertson (67) who was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease several years ago.

Along with others in the dementia sector, Robertson has lobbied successive governments for many years to heed the World Health Organization’s (WHO) call for countries to implement dementia action plans.

He says the Labour government gave New Zealand’s dementia community hope when it pledged before the last election to support the Dementia Mate Wareware Action Plan.

More recently, associate health minister Ayesha Verrall also advised that Cabinet had endorsed the Plan.

However, Robertson said Budget 2022 fell well short of the dementia sector’s hopes.

“You could argue that at least dementia is, to some very limited extent, on this government’s radar, and we are grateful for that.

“But what was announced in this Budget will do absolutely nothing to fix community support services that are woefully underfunded and largely inadequate, and totally inadequate to cope with the rapidly growing increase in demand.”

Budget 2022 included limited funding for ‘four post-diagnostic support trials, which include a six-session programme for all newly diagnosed people with dementia.’ It also provides some funding ‘to deliver respite care to enable family and whānau carers to continue caring for their whānau members.’

“It’s far from ideal!”

Almost 70,000 new Zealanders have dementia and that number is expected to triple in coming years as our population ages.

The 2020 Dementia Economic Impact Report (DEIR), compiled for Alzheimers NZ, indicates dementia prevalence will also increase rapidly among Māori, Pasifika and Asian communities, creating a range of health equity issues that need to be addressed.

Robertson said living with dementia is really tough and it would help to know when the government will provide New Zealand’ dementia community with the support services we so desperately need.”

The Dementia Mate Wareware Action Plan has four priority areas:

  • Reducing the incidence of dementia.
  • Better supporting those living with it, and their care partners.
  • Building dementia friendly and inclusive communities.
  • Strengthening leadership and capability across the sector.

It was written by Alzheimers NZ, Dementia NZ, NZ Dementia Foundation and Te Mate Wareware Advisory Rōpū.