Meeting the Dementia Challenge: The SPICE Program's Remarkable Impact

21 Nov 2023
Dementia casts a significant shadow over Australia, affecting memory, cognition, and behaviour, and leaving a profound mark on community members and their families. As the second leading cause of death in the country, it claims numerous lives, with over 400,000 Australians currently living with dementia. This number is projected to double by 2058. In Canberra, where over 6,200 people were reported to have dementia in 2022, there's an additional concern: the existence of undiagnosed cases could push the total number of people living with dementia in the local community to over 12,400.

The challenge lies in providing post-diagnostic support for those with dementia and their caregivers. With roughly 80% of the 6,600 people with dementia in the ACT living in the community, timely access to emotional and practical support is essential.

Allied health professionals at Canberra Health Services and the University of Canberra are collaborating to deliver and evaluate an innovative new therapeutic program named SPICE, for people living with dementia and their carers.

SPICE: Sustainable Personalised Interventions for Cognition, Care & Engagement

SPICE is a 12-week evidence-based multicomponent program tailored to meet the needs of people with dementia and their carers, including physical activity, social engagement, nutrition assessment and carer education and capacity building.

As a 10-year jointly initiated plan by the Australian Government and state and territory governments, the National Dementia Plan has clear objectives, including improving the early detection of dementia, providing quality diagnostic services, and enhancing post-diagnostic care. It also aims to streamline treatment and support throughout the dementia journey, emphasising lifestyle interventions focusing on physical and mental health, social care, and support.

The SPICE program aligns perfectly with these goals, delivering impressive results. However, the program faces high demand, surpassing its current capacity.

To maximise impact, additional funding is necessary to support the program's expansion, enabling more individuals' participation each year.

With positive and measurable outcomes collectively from these programs, the project has the potential to become part of standard care in the ACT, and to set an example for dementia care services Australia-wide.

Read the complete RiotAct news article here

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