What is dementia care and how can it help?

What is dementia care and how can it help?

Almost 490,000 Australians are currently living with dementia and almost 1.6 million Australians involved in caring for someone with dementia. That figure is expected to reach more than 550,000 Australians by 2030.

Dementia Australia explains that people living with dementia experience a collection of symptoms that impact their thinking, behaviour and ability to perform everyday tasks. It can be caused by a number of underlying diseases’.

Finding help and support for a loved one with dementia can be a daunting task, that’s why we’ve put together this article to give you an understanding of dementia care in Australia and how to access it.

What is dementia care?

Dementia care is a very broad term to refer to the care, treatment and management of dementia. This may include consultations from a general practitioner or other medical specialist, medication, hospitalisation, nursing or aged care services.

More than half of people living in permanent residential aged care were living with dementia in 2019-20. People with dementia also accounted for almost 10 per cent of aged care assessments in the same year.

There is currently no conclusive test to diagnose dementia. To obtain a diagnosis involves a combination of a range of medical and cognitive assessments that may include a number of health professionals.

What types of dementia care are available?

There are a number of types of dementia care available that will depend on your particular needs.

In-home care

Home care is support you receive in your own home. This type of care may be from a carer, family member or through a private organisation. The type of service you can access will vary depending on where you live and your care needs but it could include some help with meals, transport, home maintenance, mobility aids or technology to assist you in remaining living at home.

Day centre care

Day centre care, sometimes known as day centre service is a community-based professional service where people with dementia can spend the day receiving a mix of nursing care and recreational activities. This also provides a respite for carers who can take a short break during the day whilst having the peace of mind that their loved one is being thoughtfully and competently taken care of.

Respite care

Respite Care is a short term stay in a care facility that allows both carer and the person being cared for to achieve the three R’s: Rest, Recharge and Recuperate.

Respite care enables carers and family members to go on a holiday, manage their own affairs and take care of other business. It also gives the person with dementia an opportunity to socialise and meet new people.

At most care facilities, the length of respite care is flexible and planned around your needs. You can access up to 63 days per financial year, with a possibility of extending up to 21 days depending on eligibility.

Long term care

Long term care refers to a residential care facility. It can be typically split into two main categories – providing high-level and low-level care. Some residential homes will also have specific dementia units.

When choosing a long term care facility, consider your specific needs and existing medical condition. It is important to choose somewhere offering dementia friendly care, that is providing a safe environment that supports autonomy and high quality of life for people living with dementia.

Many dementia friendly care places create safe, accessible and welcoming spaces where people can move around freely and enjoy a more fulfilling and active lifestyle.

Hospice Care

Residential care facilities offer hospice or palliative care to support people with a life-limiting illness. Any residential aged care home should have defined guidelines for a palliative approach to be able to support the person living with dementia and their family members.

Life at heritage care

Does Heritage Care offer dementia care?

Yes, all Heritage Care homes are dementia-friendly communities suitable for people living with low level dementia care. We take a person-centred approach to care to empower residents with autonomy, independence and to ensure their care needs are understood, respected and supported.

Our staff are trained in dementia care which ensures people with dementia can continue to live how they want to in the community.

Heritage Care also offers dedicated Memory Support Units at four of our homes. Each MSU home has their own gardens and courtyards to provide a safe and secure environment for people living with high dementia care needs.

Our four homes with Memory Support Units are: Heritage Gardens in Bayswater North Victoria, Water Gardens in Sydenham Victoria, as well as New South Wales homes Heritage Illawong and Heritage Queanbeyan.

What is a memory support unit?

A Memory Support Unit (sometimes known as a dementia unit) is a purpose built facility to support people impacted by memory loss. Memory Support Units prioritise the mental wellbeing of residents and have design features like being well lit, easy to navigate and avoiding patterns or objects that might confuse a person with dementia.

Memory Support Units often include attached gardens and outdoor greenspaces to give residents mental stimulation and spend time outside. Spending time in greenspaces has been shown to have positive mental health benefits, as well as boosting vitamin D levels, lowering our blood pressure and reducing stress.

Am I eligible for dementia care?

You will need to have your eligibility determined through My Aged Care. Once you have contacted My Aged Care a personalised record will be created, followed by an assessment to help determine what your specific care needs are.

Typically, your assessment would take place in your home and will be either a Regional Assessment Service or an Aged Care Assessment Team depending on the complexity of your needs. At this stage you can nominate a family member or friend to be your representative.

What does dementia care cost?

The cost of dementia care in Australia will vary depending on your particular needs. The cost of in home care will be different to living full time in a residential care facility.

The Australian Government subsidises a range of aged care services for eligible Australians, and your contribution to the costs will vary depending on factors like your financial situation, the fees of the aged care provider, the type of services required.

There is a maximum amount for daily fees and accommodation costs set by the Australian Government. There is also an annual and lifetime cap for care fees that means once you have reached these caps you cannot be asked to pay any more care fees to your provider.

Where should I start?

The first step is to apply for an assessment through the My Aged Care website or through their call centre. You can also call or refer someone to Dementia Support Australia through their 24 hour helpline on 1800 699 799.

You may also want to explore some of the resources available to you as a person living with dementia or perhaps a family member to someone living with dementia.

What resources are available?

Dementia can be a complex and challenging time for families. Fortunately there are resources available to help:


Contact the friendly team at Heritage Care to learn more about our dementIa care options for your loved one. View a home that is closest to you.