The Director-General of the World Health Organisation said, “we do not have a comprehensive and affordable plan for coping with the tidal wave of dementia that is coming our way…we cannot wait to take action. The job now is to weave these multiple strands of hope coming from multiple new initiatives into a comprehensive plan.”

Here in New Zealand, the dementia sector is taking up the challenge by joining together to draft New Zealand’s first dementia action plan.

The New Zealand Dementia Co-operative says the aim behind the partnership is to provide “stronger, clearer leadership across the health system in response to the important challenges posed by dementia”.

The draft action plan centres around four over-arching objectives: reduce the incidence of dementia; support people living with dementia and their family/carers to live well; build accepting and understanding communities; strengthen capability across the sector.

The Co-operative has kept the Ministry of Health and Ministers updated on the development of the plan and expects District Health Boards to read the draft plan and consider any implications for communities. It suggests that each DHB convenes a meeting of its dementia service stakeholders over the next six weeks to consider the draft and the issues it raises. An online feedback survey will be released in November 2019.

The DHBs and the wider sector have also received a national dementia services stocktake questionnaire from the Ministry of Health.  The purpose of this is to identify the successes and gaps in the current health system in relation to dementia, so as to better inform the Action Plan and other activity to assist people affected by dementia.
Cooperative Executive Director Shereen Moloney says the time to act is now.

“The country’s rapidly increasing prevalence of dementia and the present and future unmet needs of New Zealanders living with this condition and their whanau and families make this a priority.”

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