Media Release by Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield

More support for people with severe symptoms of dementia in aged care

Today the Abbott Government has delivered on its commitment to establish an alternative programme to Labor’s bungled Dementia Supplement, announcing an initiative to expand support for aged care residents experiencing severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.

The announcement follows consultation with the aged care sector through the Ministerial Dementia Forum and the Aged Care Sector Committee.

The Government has announced it will invest $54.5 million over four years – the original funding envelope of the previous Dementia Supplement – to establish Severe Behaviour Response Teams.

Severe Behaviour Response Teams (SBRTs) will be a mobile workforce of clinical experts who will provide timely and expert advice to residential aged care providers that request assistance with addressing the needs of people with the most severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.

These teams of aged care experts will visit residents exhibiting extreme behaviours, assess the cause and advise care staff on how to best care for the resident.

The first phase of the SBRTs is expected to commence nationally later this year, following a competitive tender process. The SBRTs will work closely with the existing Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Services in each state and territory.

A second phase will see these two programmes integrated from 2016-17.

Complementing this initiative, the Government will also conduct an analysis of existing dementia programmes during the first half of 2015.

Currently the Government provides more than $130 million for a diverse range of programmes designed to provide support and assistance to people with dementia and their carers. These programmes have evolved individually over a number of years and the Government is keen to ensure that we optimize the national coordination, integration and effectiveness of this major investment.

Both of these initiatives respond to specific recommendations made by the sector to Government through the Ministerial Dementia Forum, which I convened on 11 September last year.

The Forum brought together more than 60 key stakeholders and experts to advise the Government on how to encourage better practice dementia care in both residential and home care settings, and how to best support people who exhibit severe behaviours.

These two initiatives demonstrate that the Abbott Government is listening to the concerns of the aged care sector, consulting on policy design, and delivering on its commitment to find a viable alternative to Labor’s failed Dementia Supplement within the original funding envelope.