With the number of people living with dementia on the rise, Palliative Care Australia (PCA) has called for increased funding and support for palliative care services to improve the quality of life for those impacted.
The calls come as the latest findings from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) reveal older Australians are now more burdened by dementia than coronary heart disease, marking a significant shift in disease prevalence trends.
PCA Chief Executive Officer, Camilla Rowland said “With dementia now the biggest health issue facing Australians over 65 years, now more than ever we need greater investment in the quality of life at the end of life.”
“We need to better integrate dementia care and palliative care so that the 400,000 Australians currently living with dementia can make the most of life – and for a lot of those people, that will mean many years of quality living and relationships,” Rowland said.
“Our own data points to the growing need for palliative care, KPMG report that demand will increase by 50 per cent in the coming decade and double by 2050.
“As people and families living with dementia seek more out of life, demand for palliative care will grow further.”
Our sector’s May Federal Budget Submission is a significant moment for health reform. The submission details a number of common-sense, evidence-based initiatives that will deliver increased access to palliative care services. Share with your network ➡️ https://t.co/fSieumNCJy pic.twitter.com/kGFF4nT3eJ
— Palliative Care Australia (@Pall_Care_Aus) March 30, 2023
While acknowledging the progress made with the introduction of a National Dementia Action Plan, PCA emphasised in its pre-budget submission the importance of providing early access to palliative care for individuals, rather than limiting it to the end-of-life stage.
“Palliative care must be available from the time of diagnosis,” Rowland said.
“It is so important that people who are diagnosed with dementia are immediately supported with wholistic, person-centred care and connections to medical teams, allied health professionals and social workers to assist them and their loved ones navigate their next steps.
“Palliative Care Australia’s May 2023 Budget Submission presents the actions and investment needed to train existing and new staff and increase access to palliative care.
“The number of Australians living with dementia is expected to double by 2058, dementia is the biggest health issue of the 21st century, now is the time for greater investment in palliative care.
“We look forward to continuing our work with our friends at Dementia Australia so that more Australians have access to the care and support they deserve.”
Palliative care aims to improve the care, and thus the quality of life, of people diagnosed with a life-limiting condition.
Palliative care doesn’t just involve treating the physical symptoms of the illness, but also its psychological and emotional impacts. Palliative care is focused on providing you with as much relief from pain and suffering as possible, as well as ensuring that your family is supported during such a difficult time.
That can be through the provision of medication, therapies, home help, counselling or spiritual support.