Dementia mate wareware action plan update

By NZDF. Published on 30/9/2021

We are pleased to release our updated Dementia/Mate Wareware Action Plan.

Dementia/mate wareware is one of the 21st century’s greatest global health and social care challenges, and New Zealand’s health system is woefully underprepared for the massive demand the rapid growth in the number of people living with dementia/mate wareware is creating. 

The number of people with dementia in Aotearoa/New Zealand is rising fast because of our ageing population and because of increases in the number of people with common conditions that carry a higher risk of dementia, such as diabetes, obesity, drug and alcohol issues, and intellectual disabilities such as Down syndrome. The situation is even worse for Māori, Pasifika and Asian communities where numbers will triple because those populations’ older people are growing more rapidly than the general population, and where there are already very significant health equity issues. 

Our systems are not designed to respond to their needs. Existing services are already struggling to keep up with the demands caused by the increase in numbers and to deliver the culturally responsive and equitable services required to cope with present and future demands. It doesn’t have to be this way. We already know much of what will help. Our health system could support people to live well with dementia, if it changed radically. 

This is why a national plan that clearly describes what is required now and for the future is needed so urgently.

The Plan was originally finalised and submitted to government in May 2020 by the NZ Dementia Foundation, Alzheimers NZ, and Dementia NZ following extensive consultation in the sector. 

Since then, and in partnership with the Mate Wareware Advisory Rōpū, we have revised and updated the Plan to strengthen its Kaupapa Māori and equity provisions and to reflect the restructure of Aotearoa/New Zealand’s health system. 

The 2020 Dementia Economic Impact Report released this week reinforces the size and scale of the challenge dementia/mate wareware presents. And this will only get worse as Aotearoa/New Zealand’s population ages at an unprecedented rate.

It’s time for government and the health and social services sectors to act. The Plan has been developed as a blueprint to help with that by setting out the most urgent steps needed over the next five years. 

This urgency means we need to work together, sharing knowledge and collaborating to improve the way the system responds. We stand ready to work with government and health sector agencies to implement this Plan so all people living with dementia/mate wareware as well as their families and whānau get the help and support they need, now and in future. 

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