News and media
Healthy West Australian seniors are needed for a study looking at a possible link between losing the ability to multi-task and Alzheimer’s disease.
The University of Western Australia (UWA) research project will study approximately 90 people aged over 60 doing two things at once.
A third of people in the study will have Alzheimer’s, another third will be diagnosed with major depression and the remaining third, which researchers are now calling for, will comprise a control group of seniors who are ageing healthily.
The project aims to confirm that losing the ability to multi-task doesn’t occur in healthy ageing or with major depression, said the lead investigator, Professor Romola Bucks from UWA’s School of Psychology.
“It’s about finding a cognitive symptom that is particular and specific for Alzheimer’s disease,” Prof Bucks said.
Alzheimer’s disease is a condition that attacks the brain, which in turn affects memory, thinking and behaviour.
It is found in about 50 to 70 per cent of dementia cases making it the most common form of dementia, according to Alzheimer’s Australia, as outlined on their website.
Answering the phone while cooking dinner, then trying to talk on the phone at the same time as stirring the pot or watching the grill is a typical example of doing two things at once, Prof Bucks said.
The UWA study will test the functions in a much more controlled way via a series of assessments. more
Source: Australian Ageing Agenda 22 November 2012
The national regulator of Australia’s vocational education and training sector has announced it will enact a key Productivity Commission’s (PC)recommendation, and conduct a strategic review of vocational education and training (VET) in the aged and community care sector.
The review, to be conducted by the relatively new regulatory body – theAustralian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA), will take a whole-of-sector view to aged and community care training, and aim to identify issues and formulate solutions.
The move is said to ensure that aged and community care sector workers have the right skills and qualifications to offer quality care to an increasing number of older people.
ASQA chief commissioner, Chris Robinson, said the review will also help to further detail the key training-related problems identified within the PC’sCaring for Older Australians (2010) inquiry.
“These concerns included the variability in the quality of training provided by registered training organisations (RTOs) and the need for better regulation; and fast-tracking of qualifications, for example, delivering a Certificate III qualification in less than a month,” Mr Robinson said.
“…As the number of older Australians rises and the demand for aged care services increases, there will be an increase in demand for a well-trained aged care workforce…
“It is essential that we prepare for this growth now by ensuring those undertaking VET-level qualifications are equipped with the right skills.” more
Source: Australian Ageing Agenda 22 November 2012
The federal Attorney-General, Nicola Roxon, and Minister for Finance and Deregulation, Penny Wong, have released the ‘exposure draft’ for new consolidated anti-discrimination legislation which aims to simplify and streamline Australia’s current anti-discrimination laws.
The new draft Act aims to replace the five different anti-discrimination Acts [Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth); Age Discrimination Act 2004; Disability Discrimination Act 1992; Sex Discrimination Act 1984; and the Racial Discrimination Act 1975] currently in use, consolidating them into a single Act that will tackle all forms of discrimination on the same basis.
In releasing the exposure draft, Ministers Roxon and Wong explained that Australia’s current anti-discrimination laws spanning the five different acts all have different standards, definitions and rules which make the system unnecessarily complex and difficult to navigate.
They said the new act would provide better protections with a clearer and simpler regime for business, organisations and individuals.
“There will be no reduction in existing protections and the highest current standards will be consistently applied and enforced across the full range of discriminatory practices,” said Senator Wong.
“It’s ridiculous that at the moment, an African woman for example, who has been discriminated against needs to separately make complaints of sex and race discrimination – now she can make a single complaint recognising the discrimination was because she was both a woman and African.”
Senator Wong said the consolidated legislation will make it easier for individuals to seek redress when they’ve been discriminated against, and will provide the Commission with the ability to dismiss unmeritorious complaints, providing business with certainty. more
Source: Australian Ageing Agenda 20 November 2012
Over 70 per cent of Australians would actively seek a vaccination to prevent the onset of dementia if one were available, according to research from the Australian Medicines Industry .
Preliminary findings from a new report from the peak body for the pharmaceutical industry, Facing the Health of Australians, has shown that the threat of dementia generates more fear in the average Australian than does diabetes, obesity or depression.
The full report is due out early 2013 but so far, the statistics show that the number of people who worry about dementia is double that of the previous generations and that dementia is one of the nation’s most worrying health concerns.
Cancer is the condition that Australians would most like to see a cure for (47.9 per cent) but dementia comes in as the nation’s second priority (16.6 per cent), ahead of heart attacks, diabetes and depression.
Yet, when the 5,000 Australian adults aged 32-66 years were surveyed and asked to consider their concerns when thinking about the future health of their children, over a quarter cited obesity as their greatest worry, with dementia lagging well behind at just under three per cent.
Seventy per cent of survey respondents said they would undergo a genetic test to understand their future health risk but only half would agree to be tested if they knew there was a medicine available to treat that particular condition. more
Source: Australian Ageing Agenda 14 November 2012
Programs that support older people with diverse needs and translate research into best practice are among reform measures targeted in the latest round of healthy ageing grants.
And doing your research and having evidence that shows your program will work is critical to the application process, says a winner from the previous round.
Applications are now open for the second round of Australian Government’s Aged Care Service Improvement and Healthy Ageing Grants Fund (ACSIHAG), which has been widened to include parts of the Living Longer, Living Better reforms.
Minister for Ageing Mark Butler said ACSIHAG is intended to be broad in scope and flexible enough to support a wide variety of activities that deliver high quality aged care and promote healthy ageing.
“We are looking for applications from a wide range of organisations, including community groups and national peak bodies to help us support service improvement and improve the lives of older people,” Mr Butler said in a statement.
Projects that focus on implementing aged care reform measures are particularly being sought this round.
For example, activities supporting older people with diverse needs, such as people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. more
Source: Australian Ageing Agenda 14 November 2012
The Australian government, Palliative Care Australia and other end-of-life care advocates have helped to achieve United Nations action on palliative care which will help ensure that every dying individual throughout the world has access to pain management services and adequate pain relief.
Last week, a United Nations High-Level Summit agreed to embed a palliative care ‘indicator’ within its Global Monitoring Framework on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs).
That means that every country in the world can now use the same method or ‘indication’ to measure their pain management performance.
This is expected to lead to international improvements in palliative care data collection, cross-country comparisons on palliative care performance levels and worldwide pain control goal-setting.
The indicator will allow a country to calculate its number of deaths from cancer, in which pain was adequatley managed. In the UN’s terms, the indication is the “Morphine equivalent consumption of strong opioid analgesics (excluding methadone) per death from cancer”.
According to the CEO of Palliative Care Australia (PCA), Dr Yvonne Luxford, the indication is a relative way that countries can measure their pain management performance and hopefully help improve access to, and awareness of, palliative care services throughout Australia and around world.
It will also help the international community to monitor trends and assess information about a country’s policy-related progress on NCDs.
“The indicator can show whether there has been an improvement or not,” Dr Luxford said.
“It’s more that countries can now self-identify their base levels and what improvements they can make.” more
Source: Australian Ageing Agenda 14 November 2012
The much awaited tenders have been issued for the first of the new consumer directed ‘home care’ packages, offered over four levels of care needs, as part of the Aged Care Approvals Round (ACAR) announced over the weekend by Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler(pictured above).
Saturday’s ACAR announcement, which includes more than 14,000 new aged care places – 8,341 residential care places and 5,835 home care packages – is offered across Australia for 2012-13 as part of the Government’s $3.7 billion aged care reform plan – Living Longer Living Better.
This ACAR round, which closes on 21 December, heralds a number of changes from previous ACARs, both in the types of home care packages offered and the process of applying for both residential and home care packages.
A raft of changes
Minister for Ageing, Mark Butler, said in the lead up to this year’s allocation round, the Government had reviewed existing application forms with a view to simplifying and shortening them wherever possible in an effort to reduce red-tape for aged care providers.
“As a result of this work, the application for new residential aged care places has been almost halved in length – and some of the questions are optional for existing providers, if they relate to information the Department of Health and Ageing already holds.” more
Source: Australian Ageing Agenda November 2012
An 85-year-old priest has abseiled down a Perth cathedral tower to prove how much fun it can for a person to stay active right up until and through their later years.
Reverend Tim Harrison, an honorary assistant priest at St George’s Anglican Cathedral, sailed all the way down the church tower earlier this week, in the lead-up to the Bendigo Bank Seniors Week Festival.
Rev Harrison, who was a keen abseiler as a young man, said he believes the sport is much safer today than it was 50 years ago.
According to Brayden West of Adventure Out, abseiling is one of many activities that can be done at any age, and hopes more seniors will want to give it a go after witnessing Rev Harrison’s carefully managed descent on Tuesday.
The Anglican aged and community care provider, Amana Living (WA),organised the abseil which was followed by an al fresco reception and a church service.
“We aim to help people really live the second half of life,” said CEO of Amana Living, Ray Glickman.
“This means being as invigorated, healthy and active as possible at every age, and focusing on what people can do, rather than what they can’t do.
“Tim Harrison is a great example of this philosophy.”
Source: Australian Ageing Agenda
The national depression initiative, beyondblue, has set its sights on aged care training having just officially released a new professional education program to help sector staff better recognise the signs of depression and anxiety in older populations.
The new training program launched this week, Making a difference: Understanding depression and anxiety in older people, contains material which fits in with all accredited aged care training courses and consists of student workbooks, facilitator guides, DVD clips and a podcast.
Aged care-specific training is a first for the advocacy, policy and education organisation, with the newly developed program on offer for free to eligible Registered Training Organisations (RTO).
beyondblue is now asking RTOs to apply for the new program through its website.
CEO of the organisation, Kate Carnell AO, said the new training program will enable RTOs to deliver content on depression and anxiety in older people as part of Certificate III in Aged Care and Home or Community Care.
“It is terrible that the cumulative effect of numerous risk factors including illness and isolation means older Australians are particularly vulnerable to depression and anxiety,” Ms Carnell said.
“But this new training program means students will receive an excellent grounding in the signs and symptoms of depression and anxiety when they enter the aged care workforce.
“The community must do everything it can to ensure the good mental health of older people and we believe this will help significantly.”
Source: Australian Ageing Agenda 12 September 2012
Aged care facility owners are making more profit today than they were a year ago, with around 70 per cent of residential facilities now operating in the black, according to new industry benchmarking survey results.
The Aged & Community Care Financial Performance Survey, recently released by the chartered accountancy firm, StewartBrown, has measured and compared the financial performance of more than 600 Australian residential aged care facilities for the financial year finishing June 2012.
The results show that even though providers are barely scraping through financially, an overwhelming majority – almost 78 per cent of residential care facilities – are making a surplus.
The average facility result for the 2012 year was also $8.24 per bed day compared with $5.10 per bed day for the 2011 financial year.
StewartBrown director, David Sinclair, said that although it is presumptuous to specifically pinpoint exactly why each facility recorded the statistic they did, it can be assumed that most have taken recent action “to cut costs or make better use of the ACFI through better documentation and so forth”.
“People are managing their facilities better and probably have a little bit of extra income in the mix,” Mr Sinclair said.
Government funding has made a difference, he speculated. But, added: “I don’t think that anyone is arguing that there is not more funding [available] from the government. But what the government has been arguing is that they want to claw back some of the money.”
Mr Sinclair cautioned against overstating the positive financial results, which should be looked at in a business context, relative to other industries. more