Alzheimers New Zealand’s report on the Economic Impact of Dementia suggests that new models of care are urgently needed as the number of New Zealanders living with dementia is set to increase by nearly 300 per cent to 170,000 by 2050.

The report, which was carried out by Deloitte, was released last week at Parliament by Seniors Minister Maggie Barry. It showed that in keeping with the rising numbers of people with dementia, costs related to dementia are also predicted to escalate to around $2 billion by 2020 and $4.6 billion by 2050. The report looked at potential savings if policies successfully delayed the entry of people with dementia into residential care, by keeping them fitter for longer.

The government’s New Zealand Framework for Dementia Care has already paved the way for potential new models of care to help address the economic impact of dementia. The framework, which is now four years old, identifies gaps in dementia care, ensures funding is sufficient so as not to delay dementia care, and supports workforce training.

Careerforce is supportive of the framework’s objective to boost workforce training with a strong focus on person-centred care. The industry training organisation believes that keeping people with dementia at home in the community is one way to manage rising dementia rates.

“We believe the community care model is part of the answer to one of the country’s biggest health challenges, not just because of financial advantages, but because it helps keep our elderly happy and safe and home for longer,” says Careerforce chief executive Ray Lind.

“While we recognise that dementia is a complex condition and the community care model is not appropriate for everyone, strong health and social support services can help those with dementia, their family and whānau to maintain maximum independence and wellbeing.

“Just because someone has dementia doesn’t mean they need to leave their home and go into residential care – instead, greater focus should be placed on caring for them in our communities.”

Careerforce works with employers across New Zealand to implement workplace training programmes, so their staff are equipped with the knowledge and skills to recognise, understand and support people living with dementia. The ITO’s workforce training programmes for aged and community care settings include specialist community care and dementia care programmes, tailored for employees in this sector.

“Caring for someone with dementia can be a very challenging role and one of the things many people say is that they are not sure how to help. In these situations, it’s easy to feel incompetent,” says Lind. “So, the key focus of our workplace training programmes is to enable staff to gain the knowledge, skills and confidence to best recognise, manage and support dementia-related behaviour.”

Counties Manukau Homecare Trust have put 98 per cent of their 170-strong team of support workers through a special Careerforce dementia training programme, Open Doors/Open Minds, a collaboration with Alzheimers New Zealand and the ‘Walking in Another’s Shoes’ group.

“As an organisation we are aware of the need for care of dementia clients,” says manager Trudy Biggelaar. “They found it useful and beneficial for giving safe and best care to our clients, as well as bringing an awareness to their own immediate whānau and extended whānau and friends.”

Lind says specialist dementia training helps staff manage supporting dementia behavior.

“Our training programme teaches them to look for and recognise triggers, to recognise what is occurring and manage challenging behaviour. Once they’ve completed the programme, trainees are so much better equipped and no longer take things personally.”


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