Dementia Innovation Readiness Index 2020: 30 Global Cities released by the Global Coalition of Ageing, Alzheimer’s Disease International and the Lien Foundation
SYDNEY – 8 October, 2020: Sydney has been ranked eighth in dementia innovation out of 30 global cities according to a new report released today by the Global Coalition on Aging (GCOA), Alzheimer’s Disease International (ADI) and the Lien Foundation.
The report, Dementia Innovation Readiness Index 2020: 30 Global Cities, evaluates the readiness of 30 cities to develop and adopt innovations in dementia and aims to uncover where there are opportunities for innovation across the global dementia community.
Dementia innovation readiness is defined in this Index as the level to which each city is prepared to innovate in terms of novel approaches, systems, or processes that would have an impact on the prevention, treatment, or care of dementia.
The report examines 26 indicators across five categories of innovation readiness – strategy/commitment, early detection/diagnosis, access to care, community support and business environment.
The report found that Sydney scored eight out of all the 30 cities in the report at an overall score of 7.2 out of 10. Sydney scored extremely well in the areas of access to care, and strategy and commitment.
Maree McCabe, CEO of Dementia Australia, says that Sydney has a focus on creating communities which are more inclusive and accepting of people with dementia.
“The government in Sydney supports the New South Wales Ageing Strategy 2016 – 2020, which has committed to challenging the perceptions of ageing and of older people and inspire a positive vision of ageing,” says McCabe. “People living with dementia in Sydney have solid access to care as well.”
Sydney scored lower in the area of early detection and diagnosis, which McCabe says should be a focus area for the city going forward.
“Early detection and diagnosis of dementia is essential to ensuring that people living with the condition are able to access treatment and care resources as soon as possible, as well as plan for changing care needs,” says McCabe. “Timely diagnosis will also become increasingly important to ensure that people are able to access new treatments as they become available.”
There are an estimated 459,000 people living with dementia in Australia, meaning that dementia preparedness is becoming increasingly important for decisionmakers.
ADI Chief Executive Paola Barbarino says that local leadership is critical in preparing for dementia.
“A willingness to act at a local leadership level has been clearly linked to a city’s preparedness and ability to innovate,” says Barbarino. “In order to improve the lives of those living with dementia, and their loved ones, the Index calls on local, subnational and national governments to drive strong dementia policy and planning.”
Executive Director at the GCOA, Michael W. Hodin, says that the Index calls on cities to rise to the challenge of dementia preparedness.
“The Index shows that there’s a great opportunity to develop bespoke, innovative, dementia-care initiatives at a local level,” says Hodin, “Beyond that, the Index also calls on governments, industry, NGOs, academics and other leaders to engage in high impact, action-oriented initiatives that drive collaboration at a global level.”
Ageing and urbanization are the twin defining trends of our time, pointed out Lien Foundation Research Director Radha Basu.
“As societies age and dementia becomes more common, we hope this report can help cities learn from each other on how to best manage this great, global challenge to health and social care.”
The Covid-19 crisis showcased the lack of innovation readiness within global health systems in relation to dementia, which remains the single greatest challenge to healthy aging around the world.
“The pandemic underlined the importance of addressing dementia in times of crisis and ensuring we are better prepared to meet the surging challenge ahead,” says Barbarino. “During COVID-19 we have seen how important cities have been in managing the pandemic. With their large concentration of population, cities have an opportunity and a challenge to drive best practice.”
The Index’s main findings include:
- Cities must take charge to execute against national dementia plans. Tasking ministries, agencies, civil servants, or other permanent policy bodies with implementing a plan at the local level can help to ensure dementia remains front-and-centre, even as political leadership changes, and when plans are backed by adequate funding, they are a key enabler of dementia innovation.
- Cities must advocate for flexible and transparent funding models enabling regions and cities to adapt national programs and frameworks to local contexts.
- Cities need to know where they stand with regard to the number of people in the community living with dementia. Accurate, early diagnosis can help to ensure that people living with dementia are able to access high-quality care; that the progression of their disease is appropriately managed and monitored; and that they will be able to expediently access innovations in treatment and care as they become available.
- National-level efforts to improve diagnosis rates for dementia should be aligned with the local community. One of the most common misconceptions about dementia is that it is simply a normal part of aging, and cities must be ready to deploy population-specific messaging, screening tools, and other resources that are adaptable to the diverse communities residing there.
- Post-diagnostic support is a highly localized but under-addressed opportunity for cities. City stakeholders can collaborate across the medical, social, and policy fields to ensure that locally tailored post-diagnostic support is in place and that healthcare professionals and other community service providers have the knowledge and training to connect people with relevant programs.
- Local governments and service providers must ensure that there is a sufficient supply of affordable and high-quality community-based care providers — including day care, respite care, and in-home care — so that people living with dementia are able to access needed resources. In areas where the care workforce is insufficient to adequately support people living with dementia, local stakeholders can help to build the workforce through training, increased access to educational and vocational services, as well as immigration, thus creating local jobs while solving for the impending care crisis.
- Cities should engage and fully leverage non-profit Alzheimer’s and dementia associations as experts in the community.
- Dementia-friendly principles are the tools and practices that make an organization, community, or society-at-large more accessible and liveable for people with dementia, but they also enhance cities and improve quality of life for all citizens.
- Cities have a role in enabling new and existing funding models for dementia research. For example, venture capital funding (through organizations like the Dementia Discovery Fund) and social impact bonds by cities can spur innovation. Such efforts will serve as a catalyst for breakthrough research and offset the perceived risk brought by slow therapeutic progress and growing investor hesitancy toward dementia.