Friday, January 21, 2022

Call for dementia care reform

With dementia anticipated to impact more than one million Australians by 2058, local experts at the forefront of managing Alzheimer’s disease are calling for immediate action to reform a healthcare system they say is currently ill-prepared to manage the growing impact of the disease.

The Future for Alzheimer’s disease in Australia White Paper was launched to a virtual audience of representatives from across the healthcare sector highlighting the complicated clinical pathway, non-standardised diagnostic mechanisms, inadequate workforce resourcing, and under-utilised educational opportunities impacting those living with Alzheimer’s disease and those who care for them, in the context of the potential introduction of disease-modifying therapies for this devastating disease.

“As clinicians, researchers, and care providers, we are at the precipice of an exciting, yet daunting journey to optimise care for Australians living with Alzheimer’s disease. The potential future arrival of disease-modifying therapies brings us to a critical juncture in this journey, compelling us to come together to effect purposeful, sustainable and beneficial change,” said Associate Professor Michael Woodward, Austin Health Memory Clinic, Victoria.

The Future for Alzheimer’s disease in Australia White Paper was informed by the outcomes of an expert Think Tank and an extensive consultation process coordinated over the last nine months.

Earlier this year, The Future of Alzheimer’s Disease Think Tank brought together nearly 40 individuals from government, primary and specialty care, nursing, patient and carer advocacy, professional and allied health associations for the first time, to work through these system-wide challenges facing the dementia and Alzheimer’s disease community.

The culmination of their expertise, insights and recommendations from this Think Tank, and subsequent consultation process has formed the series of tangible solutions outlined in The Future for Alzheimer’s disease in Australia White Paper including:

• Improvements in case findings to support early diagnosis

• Clarity and structure on diagnostic pathways

• Establishing infrastructure and skills to help deliver treatment options

• Growing awareness and understanding of the importance of brain health

• Determining the role of primary care

• Establishing system-wide collaboration and integration.

“The Think Tank highlighted work that is already underway across the system to address some of these areas, but we must do more. Coming together earlier this year proved that we can be more impactful and efficient when we work together. Combining our experience, expertise and resources we have the chance to ensure our system is fit-for-purpose and well-prepared for what lies ahead of us,” said Professor Dimity Pond, General Practitioner and Dementia specialist.

The conversation will continue with the development of the Brain Health Collective – an expert committee who will continue to champion the potential recommendations outlined in The Future for Alzheimer’s disease in Australia White Paper to continue the system-wide discussions and drive forward the potential solutions proposed.

“At Biogen, we are incredibly proud to be supporting experts from across the sector to have these important discussions. We know the evolving treatment landscape of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, provides a critical opportunity to implement these potential recommendations. This will ensure we are planning for a future to deliver a high standard of care for Australians and their families who will be impacted by a diagnosis of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease,” said Kylie Bromley, Managing Director, Biogen ANZ.

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