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Funding puts focus on technology for dementia

New funding with a focus on supporting a pilot program pioneering the use of innovative assistive technologies for people living with dementia has been announced by the Federal Government.

More funding from government has been announced to support people living with dementia (Source: Shutterstock)
More funding from government has been announced to support people living with dementia (Source: Shutterstock)

The announced $5.3 million investment will be divided, with an initial $1 million of funding given to Dementia Australia in 2018-19 to work with existing technology providers, with the remaining $4.3 million allocated through a grants process as part of the redesigned National Dementia Support Program.

Federal Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt, announced the additional investment, noting the ‘critical need’ to continue exploring more effective ways to use technology to support people with dementia, as well as their families and carers.

“With up to 250 Australians now joining the population with dementia each day, it is critical we build on our record investment in dementia research and development,” Minister Wyatt says.

“This latest commitment will fund the trialling of technology to improve the quality of life for Australians already living with dementia, from sustaining their independence and enabling them to live in their own homes for longer, to helping families and carers to better understand dementia.”

Dementia Australia Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Maree McCabe thanked the minister for his support, saying the funding would enable the peak body to build on the success of its award-winning technologies, which had improved dementia care for people living with dementia, their families and carers.

“Dementia is the second leading cause of death for all Australians and the leading cause of death for Australian women. It is the most important social and health issue we are facing today,” she says.

“It is crucial we continue to explore new and innovative ways to improve dementia care through technological solutions and ensure that people living with dementia are supported and empowered to live in their own homes and communities for longer.

“Through this funding, the Federal Government has demonstrated its support of Dementia Australia’s pioneering technological program and its close collaboration with people impacted by dementia to identify cutting-edge new solutions.”

Minister Wyatt also notes that the investment will extend the capacity of the health and aged care sectors to respond to increased rates of dementia.

“This latest investment will build on the advances made as a result of other innovative projects supported through the Dementia and Aged Care Services Fund and the Turnbull Government’s five-year $200 million Boosting Dementia Research Initiative,” he says.

“Technology will never replace the importance of the human touch of caring but we are already seeing major innovations which are improving and augmenting care.

“Bedroom technologies such as laser beams, floor sensors and trip lights that alert staff have increased safety for residents, while robots and robotic pets are helping to reduce tension among people with dementia and improving their quality of life.”

The funding announcement has also been welcomed by peak body Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), with CEO Sean Rooney calling it a “welcome boost” for an industry working hard to deliver new and improved models of care.

“Our ageing population presents an innovation imperative for the age services industry,” he explains.

“We need to accelerate innovation and collaboration in our industry to translate ideas into action, resulting in better outcomes for older Australians.

“While technology can never replace human caring, it can go some way to assisting to improve quality of life for those with dementia as well as their loved ones and carers.”

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