Flying squads of mobile clinicians for people with dementia
The federal government has allocated $54.4 million over four years to establish a mobile workforce of clinicians or flying squads that can provide advice to residential aged care providers for residents with the most severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD).
The funding for the proposed Severe Behaviour Response Teams (SBRTs) is part of money previously allocated to the Labor government's Dementia Supplement, which was cancelled last year by the Coalition government after it was massively oversubscribed.
The supplement was introduced in August 2013, providing an extra $16.15 per day per eligible resident to help address severe BPSD. It was originally thought that 2000 residents would be eligible in 2013-14, at a cost of $11.7 million, but by April 2014, almost 30,000 people were receiving the supplement, at a cost of $110 million.
Assistant Minister for Social Services Mitch Fifield said he was now redirecting the funding into providing the severe behaviour response teams following the recommendations of a ministerial dementia forum held last year.
The forum was facilitated by KPMG to come up with ideas for new models of support for BPSD that could be paid for within the “existing funding envelope”.
Senator Fifield said the SBRTs will be a mobile workforce of clinical experts who will provide timely and expert advice to residential aged care providers that request assistance with addressing the needs of people with the most severe behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia.
“These teams of aged care experts will visit residents exhibiting extreme behaviours, assess the cause and advise care staff on how to best care for the resident,” he said.
He said the plan was for a first phase to begin nationally later this year, following a competitive tender process. “The SBRTs will work closely with the existing Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Services in each state and territory,” he said.
These two programs will then be integrated from 2016-17. The government will also conduct an analysis of existing dementia programs in the first half of this year.
He also hinted there might be some rationalisation of the various programs available for people with dementia and their carers, which are funded to the tune of approximately $130 million a year.
“These programs have evolved individually over a number of years and the government is keen to ensure that we optimise the national coordination, integration and effectiveness of this major investment,” he said.
Last year's forum recommended that special support service models could be geriatrician, GP or nurse practitioner-led, and involve specialised assessment and multidisciplinary input, according to a KPMG report.
“These models could be applied both to the residential and home care domains and were considered to be highly effective where available.
“It was thought that these flying squads would be cost effective in that they would bring care to the person with severe BPSD, resulting in earlier intervention with the result of minimising even more resource intensive downstream interventions such as emergency department presentations.”
Posted in Aged Care