$54m funding to call on dementia experts

MOBILE teams of dementia experts will be on call to nursing homes across Australia under a new Federal Government plan.

Assistant Social Services Minister Mitch Fifield announced $54.5 million funding over four years for the project that would allow aged care providers to call in clinical experts to help out when residents develop the most serious symptoms of the disease.

They will visit patients exhibiting extreme behaviours, assess the cause and advise staff on the best course of action.

Alzheimer's Australia president Graeme Samuel applauded the move, saying he hoped it would lead to a reduction in the use of physical and chemical restraints.

"This is a great initiative that will be welcomed by everyone who is aware of the difficulties associated with dementia and aged care," Mr Samuel said.

"Announcements of this kind provide much-needed national leadership in tackling dementia."

The program's first phase is expected to be rolled out nationally later this year after a competitive tender process.

The group of experts, Severe Behaviour Response Teams, will work hand in hand with existing dementia services in each state and territory.

Mr Fifield said the government would also conduct an analysis of existing dementia programs during the first half of 2015.

The $54.5 million funding will be sourced from money the former Labor government allocated to its Dementia and Severe Behaviour Supplement that the Coalition axed in July after learning too many people were eligible.

Labor said 2000 people would be eligible for the supplement before its introduction, but 33,000 were receiving it by the time it was cut last year - a 16-fold blow-out.

It was budgeted to cost $11.7 million for the 2013-14 year but ended up costing $135 million.


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