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Archive for the ‘Aged Care News’ Category

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A senior Australian dietitian says up to half of people in aged care homes and up to 40 per cent of people in hospitals are malnourished.

Dr Merrilyn Banks from the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital will speak about the issue at a conference in Darwin today.

Dr Banks has studied Australian and international data and looked at how much the problem costs the health system.

She says nutritious food is usually provided by hospitals and aged care facilities, but people who are sick and frail often do not eat enough.

“They’re on medication for pain and that makes it tricker for them to eat,” she said.

“The medication for the pain may not only reduce their appetite but make them drowsy, so it’s more difficult for them to actually eat.

“They may have to be nil by mouth for periods of time.”

She says when people become malnourished they often have to spend more time in hospital.

“Research shows that hospitals could potentially save millions of dollars each year by reducing pressure ulcers alone associated with malnutrition,” she said.

“The study I did estimated that malnutrition just due to pressure ulcers is probably costing the Queensland public system about $13 million a year.”

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Aged care providers are calling for urgent action to redress a critical shortage of registered nurses.

Anglicare says while the number of high-needs-residents requiring greater medical care has increased, the new funding mechanism from the Commonwealth has effectively cut the budget of many nursing homes.

Anglicare’s Di Flecknoe-Brown says lower pay rates and a high workload in aged care are exacerbating the shortage of registered nurses, and not-for-profit aged care providers cannot match the pay offered by public and private hospitals.

“If we haven’t got the right funding as the structure that underpins everything we cannot provide any of the resources that are needed properly,” she said.

“Our money supply is not a bottomless pit and to look after people properly they have to have people who can look after them and those people need to be rewarded and remunerated appropriately.

“Many of these people would have been kept in private hospital beds or public hospital beds.

“In real terms they’re not just residents, they’ve become patients, because they have complex wound management, behavioural management, depression, they’ve got Alzheimers, they’ve got senile dementia or they’ve had a major stroke, or a physical disability and all of that requires a multi-disciplinary team to look after them.”

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A $26 MILLION exclusive gay-only retirement village has been given the green light to open in Victoria.

Developers say the village – an Australian first – will be a haven for gay, lesbian and transgender elders.

Despite objections from the community, Moorabool Shire last week approved plans for the village in Ballan, between Bacchus Marsh and Ballarat.

Construction of the 120 two and three-bedroom units is expected to start early next year.

The development, Linton Estate, will feature a tennis court, bowling green, open-air theatre and a multi-million dollar leisure centre with a pool, spa, gymnasium, cafe, restaurant, piano room and business centre.

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http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/06/28/2288529.htm

Govt announces $300m for transitional care

Sick elderly people who are forced into nursing homes prematurely are expected to benefit from changes announced by the Federal Government today.

Minister for Ageing Justine Elliot says the Government is honouring its election promise to provide transitional care for older people to help them go home from hospital rather than to a nursing home.

She says the places will be available around the country including rural and regional areas.

“If older Australians, after being in a hospital, they want to get back to their home as soon as possible, rather than going to a nursing home prematurely, then we want to make sure that happens,” she said.

“It’s about making sure older Australians retain their independence.”

More than 1,700 older Australians are expected to benefit from the program every year.

Ms Elliot says the program will cost almost $300 million.

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http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/06/18/2278403.htm

‘Millions more needed’ to stave off dementia crisis

A leading scientific researcher says Australia needs to increase funding for dementia now in order to avoid a health care crisis in the future.

A report released today says annual funding for research should be increased to $36 million a year to tackle the growing dementia epidemic.

It also recommends that dementia be included as a national health priority.

Report co-author Professor Henry Brodaty says there are more than 200,000 people with dementia at the moment, but the number could be 730,000 by 2050.

“Australia is ageing, the aged are ageing, so the old are getting older, so we really have to think about the best way to tackle this,” he said.

“For every dollar spent in research, the Australian Society for Medical Research estimated we get a $5 return.

“It makes sense to try to understand how to tackle this better.

“If you compare research for dementia compared to other chronic conditions, it’s well below those,” Professor Brodaty added.

“If we compare it on the disability-adjusted life years which is a measure of disease burden, we have only a fraction of what’s being funded in other conditions.”

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http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/06/12/2272086.htm

Dementia forcing older Aussies in care for longer: study

The report shows 70 per cent of permanent aged care residents needed a high level of care.

The report shows 70 per cent of permanent aged care residents needed a high level of care.

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A new Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report has found older people are spending longer in aged care facilities and need a higher level of attention, partly because so many of them have dementia.

The report shows 70 per cent of permanent aged care residents needed high-level care last financial year, compared with 58 per cent a decade ago.

Institute spokeswoman Ann Puet says more residents have dementia which means many require care for longer.

“On average people stay for 146 weeks now, whereas 10 years [ago], it was 131 weeks,” she said.

She says there has also been a rise in the number of people aged 90 and over who are being admitted to residential care.

“We are seeing an increasing proportion within the residential aged care sector of very old people, simply because of female longevity,” she said.

“That population its still dominated by women, although as men live longer we may see some change in that.”

Council on the Ageing spokesman Paul Flint says the findings reflect Australia’s ageing population.

“It’s the 80-plus age groups that are increasing at the fastest rate at the moment,” he said.

The report also reveals more high care places were allocated to meet increasing demand.

Catholic Health Australia chief executive officer Martin Laverty says the Government needs to step in.

“I had as recently as last week a senior Labor backbencher acknowledge to me that they were not aware of the pressure on aged care providers in their own electorate,” he said.

“A very genuine question was asked – what can we do as a government to help? Well it can assist with the pressure, relieving the pressure on capital works.”

The Aged Care Industry Council represents 95 per cent of the church, charitable and privately-owned and operated nursing homes in the country.

Spokesman Rod Young says the Government will have to face up to the extra costs associated with an ageing population.

“We’ve actually just started a new funding scheme which has changed the parameters and changed the funding methodology, he said.

“The Government claims that that will fix many of our problems. We don’t believe it will, but only the next couple of years is going to tell.”

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http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/06/02/2262030.htm

Govt considers ‘tagging’ dementia sufferers

There's a 'sense of hopelessness' for carers when a dementia sufferer goes missing, Glenn Rees says.

There’s a ‘sense of hopelessness’ for carers when a dementia sufferer goes missing, Glenn Rees says. (Reuters: Christian Hartmann)

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Alzheimer’s Australia says about one third of people with dementia at some point go missing, causing distress for carers and relatives.

Glenn Rees, the group’s national executive director, says it is very traumatic for family carers when somebody goes missing.

“There’s a sense of hopelessness,” he told AM. “Sometimes the person with dementia will go to a favourite place and the situation can be resolved quickly.

“On other occasions, it can’t be. And sometimes, of course, it ends with fatal consequences.”

The Federal Government has just introduced measures to make it mandatory to for service providers to report to it when people with dementia go missing.

Federal Minister for Ageing Justine Elliot says she’s also considering a tag to make it easier for people to be found.

“First and foremost, it could be an identification bracelet,” she said. “So when a lot of these people with dementia are missing, other people can see and realise they are dementia patients.

“As to where they would be a particular tracking or tagging device in a wristwatch or a bracelet, this is something that I’m looking into in consultation with these other groups.”

Alzheimer’s Australia is keen to see a tag with a symbol indicating people have dementia introduced as soon as possible.

“We’ve encouraged the Government to look at a symbol, a symbol for people with cognitive impairment with something that our consumer stakeholders have asked us to examine,” Mr Rees said.

“What they want is something that’s readily recognisable in emergencies, in hospitals, in residential care and in the community.”

As for an electronic device, Mr Rees says the first thing is to establish whether or not a person needs such a device, and then look at the technological options available.

He concedes some of people will have concerns about such a device and he wouldn’t want anyone to be forced to wear it.

Ms Elliot agrees that a ‘tag’ would not be compulsory.

“This is totally in consultation with older Australians and with their families,” she said.

“I want to make sure that people are safe and it’s really important to be working with all groups right across the country to get the best result.”

Mr Rees says technology should not replace quality care, but it could be a good solution for some people.

“But it’s got its limitations and we would certainly encourage people to think in terms of good quality dementia care first, good design in residential care rather than assume that electronic devices would be the total solution,” he said.

Based on a report by Sara Everingham for AM

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