Submission to KPMG review of the Federal Government Initiative to “analyse dementia program and services funded by the Department of Social Services"
Schaper, Frank J. (2015) Submission to KPMG review of the Federal Government Initiative to “analyse dementia program and services funded by the Department of Social Services". (Unpublished)
The comments I make are based on my nearly twenty years involvement in the dementia cause at both a national and international level. In preparation, I read two papers namely the Ministerial Dementia Forum – Option Paper produced by KPMG Management Consultants (2014) and Analysis of Dementia Programmes and Services Funded by the Department of Social Services: Conversation Starter prepared by KPMG as a preparation document for those attending a workshop in Brisbane on April 22nd 2015.
Dementia is a complex “syndrome” and as is often said, “when you meet one person with dementia, you have met one” meaning that no two persons with dementia are the same. Even in dementia care, Australia is a “lucky country” and there is much to be said for the quality and diversity of dementia care available for people living with dementia. Despite this, I agree with the many views expressed in the material I read that there is scope for improvement, especially in the way that services are coordinated. In saying that, I do not purport to have all the solutions nor claim to have the knowledge required to comment on all the programs covered by this review. If I appear to be a “biased” advocate for Alzheimer’s Australia across the States and Territories, it is because I have seen constant evidence of ordinary people doing extraordinary things with inadequate resources. Dementia care is not cheap and if those funding dementia services are primarily only interested in economic outcomes and benefits, the real purpose of this consultation will be defeated. In addition, nowhere in the material I have read is there any recognition that in many instances program funding is a complex mix of government (at all levels) and private funding. This makes reviewing those programs more complex and less able to be coordinated at a Departmental level. It goes without saying therefore that the Federal Government is not” the only player in this game”. Of all those participating in this review, Alzheimer’s Australia is best placed to comment on programs as it is more connected to people living with dementia and has probably the best record of consulting with them. It would appear however that their role has been reduced to that of a “bit player”. Without wanting to be critical, the Forum Report which deals with the comments made at a gathering of 70 individuals and organisations, only three (3) or 4.28% were actual carers of people living with dementia. Even if it is argued that a number of organisations present represented consumers, the percentage goes up only marginally to 8.57% which is hardly an endorsement of the forum being “consumer driven”. The predominance of those present were service providers, each with their own agenda and each seeking advantage for their “business”.
The final point I want to make before commenting on more specific, program related issues, is that many programs being reviewed have a much longer history than is reflected in the material I have read. Their growth and development was pioneered by Alzheimer’s Australia organisations across the country often with no government funding. Attempts to bring about better coordination of programs were often at the behest of Alzheimer’s Australia but in the main were ignored. The opportunity to now put this right is long overdue.
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