Dementia Australia helping thousands of people and families impacted by dementia
472,000 Australians are living with dementia, and another 1.6 million people are involved in their personal care. The Dementia Australia Nightingale program in South Australia is aiming to create a sustainable, nurse-led, support program for patients and their families.
Without a medical breakthrough, the number of people with dementia is expected to increase to 590,000 by 2028 and the total cost of dementia is predicted to be more than $18.7 billion in five years and $36.8 billion by 2056.
Dementia is fatal. It is the leading cause of death for Australian women (surpassing heart disease) and the second leading cause of death in the total Australian population.
It affects the brain, thinking, behaviour and the ability to perform everyday tasks. The long-term physical, mental, intellectual and sensory impairments seriously hinder quality of life and equal participation in society and social connections.
Dementia Australia is the national peak body supporting people living with dementia, their families and carers. It provides support services, counselling, education (face to face, online, Avatar, VR & AI), and guidance to dementia patients and carers (in their homes and in care-facilities), to their families and to health and disability specialists and GP diagnosing and providing treatment.
Scholarships are also awarded through the Dementia Australia Research Foundation.
Sponsoring university-based researchers, to work closely with the dementia service specialist, means that dementia thought leaders across Australia are able to continuously reflect on the current concerns of people living with dementia, their carers and families.
Dementia Australia’s programs focus on tackling the big and growing challenges for people living with dementia, based on three priority areas:
1. Timely diagnosis and access to care
- Diagnosis takes on average 3 years, 7 for younger people between 20-65 years with dementia
- 76 per cent of people with dementia live in the community – 44 per cent live alone
- Marginalised groups find it difficult to gain access to support – 2 in 5 people living with dementia live in regional, rural and remote communities.
2. Quality Care
- There are currently no standards specific to the care of people living with dementia in aged care facilities
- 50 per cent of people in residential aged care facilities have a dementia diagnosis.
3. Reduce discrimination
- 63 per cent of people say they know very little about dementia
- 41 per cent say they found talking to someone with dementia confronting.
Timely diagnosis and access to care is an urgent requirement.
Dementia Australia’s ‘Nightingale Program’ provides specialist clinical support and dementia-specific education to people living with dementia in the end-of-life palliative stages.
The Nightingale Program is the only specialist dementia palliative care program in Australia. It focuses on a holistic model of quality of life for people living with dementia and their families throughout the entire journey: during diagnosis; throughout all stages of dementia and during palliative end-of-life care, including post bereavement support. Dementia Australia is uniquely placed to fill this urgent treatment requirement by providing dementia-specific palliative care expertise, to lead person-centred care initiatives in the home, and guide aged care and health professionals nationally.
The Nightingale Program focuses on supporting health professionals to better identify the appropriate specialised medical care and respect each patient’s choice and access to treatment with the addition of end-of-life care. The Nightingale Program supports people with dementia and their family and friends in their end of life wishes, including their care options, which results in fewer hospital admissions, and greater access to appropriate care and services.
Dementia Australia’s Nightingale Program aims to precipitate the quickly growing necessity for specialist nurse-led home-based care and industry leadership. As thousands of people and families impacted by dementia, struggle to access vital home-based specialist care and timely diagnosis support, and with Australia’s population ageing, the need for Nightingale and programs like Nightingale will substantially increase.
The Nightingale Program is currently unique to South Australia, and opportunities to expand the service nationally are currently being explored.
This organisation is supported by trusts managed by Equity Trustees.