Auckland – The New Zealand Dementia Cooperative (NZDC) today launches an interactive online community to help health professionals in the serious fight against dementia, one of the world’s most important health issues.
Globally a new case of dementia occurs every four seconds and by 2020 there will be almost 70 million people with the condition.
If global dementia care were a country, it would be the 18th largest economy in the world. The annual costs exceed the market values of companies such as Apple ($US742 billion) and Google ($US368 billion).
In New Zealand around 150,000 people will be diagnosed with dementia by 2050, triple the current figures and a cost to the economy of nearly $NZ3 billion.
The ageing New Zealand population means an increase in the number of people with dementia which leads to increased costs. In 2011, the total financial cost of dementia in NZ was $NZ955 million and numbers are predicted to increase more than 60 percent by 2026.
NZDC director Shereen Moloney says there must be changes to how people who have dementia and their families are cared for if we are to meet their needs and if New Zealand is going to manage future increases.
“We have to make these changes fast. We don’t have time. The ageing population has forced urgency on us. It is crucial that the health system can support people with dementia to live well in the community.
“Our new online dementia community will result in health professionals across the country sharing knowledge so New Zealanders can receive more timely diagnosis and more appropriate support earlier in the condition and throughout their dementia journey.
“People across the sector can now work virtually to share experiences and access knowledge from one place as and when required. Time and effort won’t be duplicated, funding will be used efficiently and effectively and the quality and consistency of service will increase – all things that are critical in the health system.
“The online community will be the go to place for those who work in the sector to access and share information about dementia care. It will host online teaching materials, demonstration videos, live chatrooms, moderated forums and webinars to allow for real-time collaboration. We have chosen a model where content is to be populated by people in the sector and moderated by the NZDC.
“I encourage those in the sector to join the new online community, upload their wealth of knowledge and get sharing.”
NZ Health IT (NZHIT) chief and NZDC steering group member Scott Arrol says the portal was developed by Tech Management Group (TMG), a NZ health IT company that specialises in web and IT systems. TMG already had a deep understanding of community based health services which meant they were able to streamline development because they understood the needs of this project. The result is a product of very high standard that will advance the cause of caring for New Zealanders with dementia.
“It is the first time in New Zealand that a technology partner has collaborated in this way with the health sector so effectively to create such a forward looking and world leading solution that will enable improved models of care and health service delivery.”
The NZDC is a non-profit organisation with the goal of improving the quality of life for people with dementia and their families. There are more than 1000 members from a wide range of backgrounds including medical, allied health, tech, managers and academics. NZDC is funded by The Selwyn Foundation, IHC Foundation and the Ministry of Health.
For further information contact NZDC National Director Shereen Moloney on +64 21 409 909 or Make Lemonade news editor Janelle Blythe on +64 21 662 138.