Elsie McFarlane leads Member for Page Kevin Hogan around the Dougherty Villa aged care facility.
Elsie McFarlane leads Member for Page Kevin Hogan around the Dougherty Villa aged care facility.

Families desperate for news on Dementia Outreach Service

THE doctor leading the fight to retain the Northern NSW Local Health District's Dementia Outreach Service says patients and carers are desperate to find out whether they will have support after October 31.

Lismore geriatrician Dr Alison Semmonds said it was impossible to reassure clients their level of assistance would be maintained until the Federal Government makes a decision on the program's funding.

The service was to lose funding in its current form at the end of June, but since no decision has been made about what would replace it, it has been extended to the end of October.

Dr Semmonds said staff were already looking elsewhere for employment because of the program's doubtful future.

"Staff have uncertainty about their jobs and given that they do not live in a major metropolitan area with other similar job choices, they are already considering leaving and moving elsewhere - a terrible loss to our community," Dr Semmonds said.

"Giving a potential end date to (the service), which is still effectively on the table, is akin to allowing a patient who is diagnosed with cancer no access to cancer care services and support once their diagnosis is made.

"Is it not then totally understandable that there is community concern?"

Federal Member for Page Kevin Hogan has said decisions about who will run dementia services and how those programs will differ from the current set-up are yet to be determined. He assured clients and staff an announcement would be made in the near future.

-APN NEWSDESK

 



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