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15 Feb 2018

The AMA recently submitted to the Department of Health comment on the establishment of the Specialist Dementia Care Units (SDCU) program, urging the Australian Government to improve the quality of Australia’s aged care system and invest in aged care reform now to build the foundations of higher quality aged care system. 

With an ever increasing prevalence of dementia in Australia, the AMA expressed in its submission support for the Department to consult widely with relevant Colleges and Dementia Australia to ensure the program design achieves a high clinical standard.

The AMA expressed the belief that the SDCU program does not “represent a holistic solution to the many issues surrounding dementia – rather it attempts to deal with one specific issue within the context of the wider problems with Australia’s aged care system”.

The AMA also used the submission to express the belief that it is also important to ensure that Residential Aged Care Facilities (RACFs) do not rely heavily on this program as a substitute for improving dementia management in usual RACF settings.

The following recommendations were put by the AMA in the submission to Government:

  • An overarching and independent Aged Care Commissioner that provides a clear, well-communicated, governance hierarchy that brings leadership and accountability to the aged care system;
  • Medical practitioners need to be recognised as part of the aged care workforce to ensure residents of aged care facilities are receiving quality care;
  • Funding for the recruitment and retention of registered nursing staff and carers, specifically trained in dealing with the issues that older people face, such as dementia;
  • Access to Medicare-funded mental health services in RACFs that is already available to the rest of the population;
  • A contemporary system that embraces information technology (IT) infrastructure for patient management to adequately support the aged care sector;
  • A contemporary IT system for medication management will reduce the risk of polypharmacy, and in turn reduce the likelihood of cognitive impairment, delirium, frailty, falls, and mortality in RACFs; and
  • Establishment of a clear, specific, and confidential complaints referral pathways in each RACF so information on complaints processes are easily accessible to both residents and staff.

This also includes a recommendation for an introduction of access to medical care.

A full copy of the AMA’s submission can be found here:


Published: 15 Feb 2018