Bega Valley dementia respite program achieving outstanding results

AN INNOVATIVE program to provide respite and support to dementia patients and their carers is achieving outstanding results in the Bega Valley.

The Mobile Respite Service is run by Alzheimer’s Australia NSW and is the only one of its kind in the state.

On Monday an independent assessment into the service was launched, which showed not only the value of mobile respite in the Bega Valley, but the need for this type of delivery method in other rural areas.

The service provides individualised support and intervention for the care recipient and their carer mostly in a home environment.

The service can delay the transition of a dementia patient to institutionalised care by several years and significantly improve the health outcomes for the carer.

By delivering the service with a two-person team, Nola Hergenhan and June Madden, one person focuses on the carer and the other on the care recipient.

Tonia Jauncey spoke at the launch to give a personal account being a carer.

“My husband Arden is now in a care facility, but I was able to keep him at home for at least two to three years longer thanks to visits from Nola and June.

“I was stretched to the limit and I had no-one to turn to when I came in contact with the service.

“My husband was in denial about his health, but he really took to June and it made every transition we’ve been through so much easier.

“Nola and June are compassionate and supportive and I can’t even imagine where I would be now without the service,” she said.

Alzheimer’s Australia NSW South East regional manager Barbra Williams commissioned the report and was pleased that findings echoed feedback she receives regularly from clients.

“This service is a unique model and it ensures individual needs are met,” she said.

“We aim to delay the transition to the care facility, and support the caregiver, which lowers their incidence of depression and ill health,” she said.

Ms Williams said the need for dementia services would only increase in the Bega Valley.

Recent projections show with an ageing population dementia will rise by 193 per cent in Australia by 2050.

In the Bega Valley, with a large population of retirees, it will rise by 341 per cent by 2050.

The report also comes at a critical time for the service, with the funding it receives under the Commonwealth National Respite for Carers Program due to end in June 2015. 

Member for Eden-Monaro Peter Hendy spoke at the launch and said he believed the Mobile Respite Service “should get support”.

“Regional areas are at a disadvantage and often need to think up innovative ways such as this to deliver services,” he said.

“I can’t answer the question as to why this service doesn’t receive recurrent funding, but it’s something I will be bringing up with the Health Minister Peter Dutton.

“Dementia is one of the priority issues of the health portfolio.”

To find out more about the Bega Valley Mobile Respite Service, call 6492 6158.


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