A COMBINATION of Australians living longer and Alzheimers afflicting younger people means a significant shortfall of dementia beds in Ballarat needs to be addressed – and now.
Surely foresight by those holding the health funding purse strings should have seen this coming and cut the problem off at the pass.
The Courier revealed yesterday that Ballarat had a shortage of dementia-specific aged care beds in both public and private sectors.
This shortfall came to light after Ballarat resident Stephen Rogers was searching for a bed for his mother. Mr Rogers said he contacted every aged care facility listed for Ballarat, but was told his mother would be placed on a waiting list.
Of the 424 aged care beds offered at Ballarat Health Services facilities, 50 are dedicated to clients suffering dementia. Occupancy rates for these beds is at 100 per cent, with up to a dozen on a waiting list.
The Courier was also unable to find available dementia-specific beds at numerous privately-owned facilities in Ballarat.
It is sad that our community’s most frail and most vulnerable must be forced to wait for a dedicated bed, leaving their care in the hands of their families. Most of these people would be ill-equipped to deal with the health complexities associated with dementia.
Alzheimers Australia Victoria dementia consultant Glenda Hipwell said an aging population and improvements to dementia diagnosis meant the number of people living with dementia in Ballarat would continue to grow.
Already there are between eight and 15 referrals to Alzheimers Australia Victoria in Ballarat every second day.
In Victoria, there are currently 72,000 people living with dementia. 56 people develop it each day.
These are people who have worked hard all their lives, paid their taxes, made a valuable contribution to society and probably raised a family.
These are people who should now be enjoying the fruits of the labour, but, instead, have been struck down with dementia.
It is these people who deserve to be properly looked after, to have the best quality of life for whatever time they have left. And that means finding and funding the appropriate number of speciality aged care beds.