The call is out to put a focus on dignity
A 73-year-old Central Coast woman with motor neuron disease has been told she will have to wait 12 months for the Level 3 Home Care Package for which she has been approved.
She is one of 1423 elderly people on the Coast alone currently wait-listed for the services they actually need now.
That's a 17 per cent increase since September 2018 when the figure was 1178.
"The government has to acknowledge that this is a crisis, and until they do so there is not the level of urgency required to change this," Federal Member for Dobell Emma McBride said.
"Every quarter the data is late and every quarter the numbers are increasing.
"But these aren't just numbers, they are people; people who have dementia or other complex health conditions that affect both them and the people around them."
Not getting the help they need puts these people at risk, often feeling overwhelmed by their circumstances, and potentially leading to further mental and physical health complications.
"Central to this is dignity and choice, and people deserve that, especially as they get older," Ms McBride said.
It's been a big two months for Ms McBride since the Federal Election and being named Labor's Shadow Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Carers.
It's a position for which the Coalition does not have an equivalent, which Ms McBride said was disappointing because these areas should be prioritised, rather than bundled into other portfolios.
She has pledged to improve the wellbeing of people with lived experience of mental illness and their families and carers, and "stand up for the millions of carers throughout Australia so their challenges are recognised and their needs better met".
After a career in pharmacy and mental health, she said her own view of the health system had been "turned upside down" by her family's experiences when her late father, Grant McBride, was diagnosed with younger onset dementia.
She believes this gives her a fairly unique perspective and understanding from both sides of the health service
She confirmed she would again organise the Grant McBride Memory Walk in September to raise funds and awareness for Dementia Australia, saying she had been overwhelmed by the support last year.
Although, unable to deliver on Labor's campaign funding promises of a dementia park and palliative care hospice had it gained office, Ms McBride said she would be examining other ways to help achieve these projects.
Again, she pointed to her father's experiences as an active, outdoors person, still physically able after his diagnosis, but limited by the number of dementia-friendly environments where he felt safe and welcome.
Ms McBride is asking carers and those with mental health issues on the Central Coast to contact her with their experiences, good and bad, so she can better understand how best to shape and improve future policy.
She is also keen to hear from all Coast residents about what is most important to them, with a survey available on her website at https://emma mcbride.com.au or phone (02) 4353 0127 or email emma.mcbride.mp@aph. gov.au.