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The Most Important Health Issue in Australia

In: Social Issues

Submitted By katemm
Words 1519
Pages 7
Topic 1:

The Most Important Health Issue In Australia 2013, Dementia.

Dementia is a broad term that encompasses a large group of illnesses that cause a progressive cognitive functional decline including memory loss, loss of intellect, rationality, language skills, perception, social skills and physical function. Dementia exists in many different forms including Vascular Dementia, Frontotemporal Dementia, Dementia with Lewy Bodies & the most common form of Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease. (“Key Facts and Statistics,” 2013.)

Dementia affects Australians of many ages and although Dementia is not considered a normal aspect of the aging process, approximately 92% of Australians diagnosed with Dementia are over the age of 65 years. ("Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of ageing,” 2012)

It is estimated that there are currently over 321,600 Australians living with dementia and approximately 1,700 new cases of dementia diagnosed every week. I believe these incredible statistics combined with Australia’s rapidly aging population make Dementia Australia’s most important health issue in 2013. (“Key Facts and Statistics,” 2013.)

The table below highlights the projected population growth & rapidly aging population facing Australia up to 2031.
Table 1;
[pic]“(Note: Reprinted from (Challenge 1, Community Services & Health Industry Skills Council,” n.d.)

Australia’s rapidly aging population will see the number of Australians living with dementia increase by one third, to approximately 400,000 Australians living with dementia in less than 10 years. (“Key Facts and Statistics,” 2013.)

Apart from having a profound and devastating impact on dementia sufferers & their carers and families, Dementia poses a significant economic and social burden on our community, health and residential care systems. People with dementia often seek or are referred for treatment in our hospitals as dementia is a chronic health condition most commonly affecting the aged whom are more likely to suffer from other chronic but common aged related health conditions including; pelvic fractures, lower respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infections, medication mishaps and delirium.

According to the AIHW publication (“Dementia in Australia,” 2012) the national health care expenditure figure for dementia care of $144.5 million in 2009 – 2010, this figure is potentially an underestimation as it only included expenditure where dementia had already been diagnosed and where dementia was the sole diagnosis prior to the hospital admission.

Whilst there are many funded Community Aged Care Packages, Extended Aged Care at Home packages and Home and Community Care services across Australia geared at providing services to support older people to maintain their independence whilst living in their own homes and aimed at preventing premature entry to residential aged care facilities, providers of aged care programs face many challenges when it comes to providing care for dementia sufferers as the care needs of someone with dementia can vary greatly as the severity of the disease progresses. According to the publication (The impact of dementia on the Health and Aged Care Systems,” 2004), Dementia sufferers with high care needs similar to the needs of those currently residing in residential aged care facilities have difficulty remaining in the community without the assistance of a full time carer. These community services succeed in caring for dementia sufferers when providing services for those whom already have a carer and family supports in place but aren’t as successful in providing care for dementia suffers whom don’t have full time carers.

According to the publication (The impact of dementia on the Health and Aged Care Systems,” 2004), Dementia’s impact is greatest on Australia’s residential aged care facilities compared to it’s impact on community service programs and hospitals. It was estimated in 2004 that 40% of people residing in Australian residential aged care facilities suffered from dementia and that figure is expected to increase as our population ages.

Whilst the dementia epidemic in Australia may not have reached it’s peak in 2013, it is of critical importance that research and planning regarding the prevention, treatment and appropriate care for dementia sufferers is made a current health priority in Australia because without any significant planning or medical breakthroughs in the near future the economical impact dementia has on Australia will increase significantly and rapidly whilst our population ages.


Alzheimer’s disease is not a normal part of ageing,(2012) Retrieved from

Challenge 1,Community Services & Health Industry Skills, (n.d.) Retrieved from

Dementia in Australia, (2012) Retrieved from

Key Facts and Statistics, (2013) Retrieved from

The impact of dementia on the Health and Aged Care Systems, (2004) Retrieved from

Topic 2:

Why effective communication skills are central to effective operating of inter-professional teams

Effective communication takes place when a message received corresponds with that of the message sent. Each person taking part in the communication process are both able to understand each other and respond to both the verbal and non verbal aspects of the communication.

Health professionals are required to adhere to a Code of Ethics, a Code of Ethics provide a guide to working ethically and provide a framework for a professional practice. Codes of ethics necessitate health professionals to act in the interest of patients, to adhere to confidentiality legislation and to ensure patient informed consent is obtained. Informed consent refers to a health professional providing information to a patient that enables the patient to make educated and responsible choices and this exchange cannot occur without effective communication. (“Higgs,J. Ajjawi, R. McAllister, L. Trede, F & Lotus, S.” 2012. chapter 22)

All health professionals are required to communicate with other health professionals, patients and legal professionals using various types of clinical reporting, some of the types of health care clinical reports used include; assessment / Initial evaluation reports, patient progress reports / case notes, referral reports, medico- legal reports and prescriptions. Effective clinical health reports are written clearly & legibly, contain short but direct sentences, are written using language at the level of the intended reader, do not contain unnecessary words or jargon, correct spelling and grammar is used and the accepted structure for the report type is used. Clinical reports that are well written result in effective communication across relevant professions and contribute to positive and appropriate patient care. (“Higgs,J. Ajjawi, R. McAllister, L. Trede, F & Lotus, S.” 2012. chapter 22)

Communication failures involved in inter- professional health care teams are associated with medico- legal incidents including surgery mishaps, adverse medication events and delayed diagnosis. (“Interprofessional education in team communication: working together to improve patient safety.” 20.12)

Health problems often affect numerous individuals within community groups, for this reason communicating with and promoting health within communities can be very beneficial and successful in improving the health of many community groups. The World Health Organisation encourages health professionals to promote health by providing information to communities and therefore empowering individuals within communities with knowledge relating to health issues as well as skills to prevent and or control health conditions. Successful community engagement requires many effective communication skills and the consideration of key aspects by health professionals. Health professionals need to be aware that community communication is a two way process and the more knowledge the health professional has regarding the targeted community group, the more respected the individuals within that community group will feel and this will therefore assist in a positive communication process. When trying to engage with a community group, health professionals should attempt to make contact with a key stakeholder of the targeted community group, a key stakeholder is a representative of a community group whom works with and has contacts within the target community group. It is important that health professionals consider the priorities identified by the community group and plans a program aimed at addressing these priorities with the various stakeholders whilst being flexible with the timeline of the project. Whilst communicating with the community group, health professionals should have knowledge about and be considerate in relation to cultures, religion, class, and gender. Health professionals should be consistent and honest whilst providing information in order to obtain trust, it is important the health professionals request feedback and listen carefully to dialog from community members and that the health professional communicates skills and knowledge in a respectful way whilst avoiding the use of any medical jargon. (“Higgs,J. Ajjawi, R. McAllister, L. Trede, F & Lotus, S.” 2012. chapter 25)

Effective communication among inter-professional health teams, patients and community groups is of vital importance as this will contribute to the prevention of any medical errors or health problems as well as assisting in providing positive patient outcomes. Effective communication skills hold the key to successful healthcare.


Higgs,J. Ajjawi, R. McAllister, L. Trede, F & Lotus, S. (2012) Communicating in the health sciences (3rd edn). Oxford University Press, Australia & New Zealand.

Interprofessional education in team communication: working together to improve patient safety. Retrieved from…...

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