NZ needs radical overhaul on dementia care - report

New Zealand will see a predicted 154,000 cases of dementia by 2050 (file)
New Zealand will see a predicted 154,000 cases of dementia by 2050 (file)

A global report warns that countries like New Zealand are unprepared for a surge in dementia cases.

The latest World Alzheimer Report says half of dementia cases go undiagnosed and there's not enough focus on services and support.

The report makes key recommendations, including:

The report also finds the overall physical health of people with dementia needs attention - better nutrition and hydration, and reducing falls, infection and delirium.

It says a move towards universal coverage of dementia healthcare is, in principle, feasible and affordable, estimating dementia care will cost 0.5 percent of the total public healthcare budget by 2030.

But it says it would require political will, advocacy and concerted action by policymakers, providers and health and social care professionals.

New Zealand will see a predicted 154,000 cases of dementia by 2050.

Alzheimer's New Zealand says healthcare for people with dementia is "patchy at best", and its supports recommendations for a radical overhaul.

"While New Zealand has a dementia framework that is trying to scale up the primary care response to dementia, it is applied inconsistently across District Health Boards and has yet to focus on implementing a consistent case management system," says Alzheimer's New Zealand chief executive Catherine Hall.

"Five years on from the 2011 report, New Zealand still hasn't adequately resourced primary care to lift the rates of diagnosis. Three years on from the 2013 report we still do not have sufficiently funded dementia services in the community or education and support for carers."

She says unlike Australia, the United States and the UK, New Zealand does not have a national plan for dementia.

"A National Dementia Plan is the mechanism for turning frameworks into action because it has specific accountabilities, actions and timeframes," says Ms Hall. "Without one, New Zealand is being left behind and will continue to struggle to meet the needs of people with dementia, their families and their carers."

The report was researched and authored by a team led by Prof Martin Prince of the Global Observatory for Ageing and Dementia Care, in collaboration with the Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU), at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).