Shepparton Villages boss criticises federal government’s axing of dementia care supplement.
Shepparton Villages has slammed the Federal Government for cutting critical funding for aged-care organisations caring for those living with dementia.
The Dementia and Severe Behaviours Supplement, which provides essential services to those living with the most severe and debilitating symptoms of dementia, will cease at the end of the month.
Some 25 451 people, including 40 from Shepparton Villages, receive the $16 a day supplement.
Shepparton Villages chief executive Kerri Rivett said the funding cut would have a huge impact on Shepparton Villages’ budget.
“This is a huge blow to us and the community as the need for specific funding to provide specialised care for older Australians living with dementia is absolutely critical, and the government had previously identified this as a gap in current funding models,” Mrs Rivett said.
“The Greater Shepparton region is critically short of beds for older Australians with severe behaviours associated with dementia, as we have been admitting more and more of these types of people as families have nowhere to go”.
Leading Age Services Australia chief executive Patrick Reid also criticised the funding cut.
“What now for aged-care providers who have followed a government mandated process, made appropriate assessments and staffed or modified their facilities accordingly in the belief that funding was adequately provisioned?” Mr Reid said.
“The removal of this funding will cause unnecessary angst and distress to clients, families and staff dealing with severe dementia,” Mr Reid said.
Federal Social Services Assistant Minister Mitch Fifield, who announced the cuts last week, said continued funding would cause a budget blowout.
Mr Fifield said the previous government introduced the funding as part of an aged-care reform package, but it had proven to be too expensive.
“The supplement was budgeted at $11.7million for this financial year. Instead, it is anticipated the cost in 2013-14 will be around $110 million,” he said.
“This is not a problem of the government’s making, but it fell to us to address the situation.
“The government is committed to working with aged-care providers and consumers in support of people with severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.”
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare says the number of people living with dementia is projected to reach almost 400 000 by 2020 and almost 900 000 by 2050.
By Estelle Griepink
As published in the Shepparton News, Tuesday, July 1, 2014