Public hospitals must equip for dementia patient influx: HACSU

Robbie Moore

Robbie Moore

The state’s public hospitals must equip themselves to deal with an influx of dementia patients, the Health and Community Sector Union says.

Tasmania has the oldest population of all states and territories.

According to 2016 Census data, 19.4 per cent of the state’s population is aged 65 years or more, with a median age of 42 years.

Furthermore, Tasmania’s population is ageing faster than the national average – from 2011 to 2016, the proportion of the state’s population aged 65 years or more increased by 3.4 per cent, while the whole of the nation increased by 1.7 per cent.

One by-product of this is that Tasmania is likely to see a greater number of its people presenting with dementia into the future.

While aged care homes and home care services are the most common means of attending to Tasmanians with dementia, it is likely the public hospital system will also have to deal with an increasing number of patients with dementia if the state’s population continues to age at the current rate.

HACSU assistant secretary Robbie Moore said training around dementia care in public hospitals needed to be delivered in a holistic fashion.

Mr Moore said it was unlikely forward planning for dementia care was being undertaken within Tasmania’s health system because it was at “crisis point”.

“Resources need to be allocated to deal with these issues and the education needs to be provided to staff so that we can provide best practice care to people with dementia,” he said.

“Given the challenges around the Tasmanian population being older than other states, it’s a time to be pro-active rather than reactive.”

A Tasmanian Health Service spokesperson said it was common for dementia patients to be given additional support in the state’s public hospitals.

“This could be required if they wander or are confused, are a falls risk or if they are aggressive,” they said.

“Those caring for the patient could be nurses, security guards or hospital support officers.”

Tasmania is set to become home to the country’s first dementia village: Glenview, in Hobart’s northern suburbs.

The facility will adopt a Dutch model of dementia care, which emphasises community and small-town living.