Dementia Australia has welcomed the introduction of a Serious Incident Response Scheme by the federal government to protect vulnerable and senior Australians from abuse and neglect.
Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe said the scheme is an important step in helping to keep people living with dementia safe.
"Dementia Australia was consulted on the scheme and expressed that in order for it to fully succeed, it needs to be embedded into the aged care system in a seamless way, and roles and responsibilities must be clearly articulated," Ms McCabe said.
"Restricted visitation in residential aged care homes due to COVID-19 has resulted in lower levels of engagement for people living with dementia.
"It is important that there are safeguards in place to ensure quality of life for people living with dementia, especially when visitation is restricted. This initiative is a positive step towards meeting the needs of people living with dementia, staff and residents, as well as reassuring family and carers that their loved ones are being cared for.
"The announcement comes at a time when people living with dementia are some of the most vulnerable people in our community, and it is promising to hear of plans that will help to provide safeguards in the future."
As part of the scheme which rolls out from 1 July 2021 with an initial investment of $23 million, residential aged care providers will be required to manage all incidents, with a focus on safety, wellbeing and reducing preventable incidents from reoccurring.
The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission will have enhanced powers to take regulatory action where needed and reporting will include a broader range of incidents including neglect, abuse and inappropriate physical or chemical restraint.
"Inappropriate use of chemical and physical restraint, particularly within residential care, is a significant concern for people living with dementia and their families," Ms McCabe said.
"There needs to be a commitment from all stakeholders to dementia education to eliminate the inappropriate use of restraints, and to improve the health and care outcomes for people living with dementia.
"We look forward to continuing to work with the government and aged care sector on this initiative to reduce the risk of abuse for all people living with dementia."
Dementia Australia's response to the consultation into the Serious Incident Response Scheme for Commonwealth funded Residential Aged Care can be found here.