Quality of care for dementia sufferers boosted by Government strategy

Contributed by editor on Feb 05, 2009 - 12:30 AM

The Prosser Perspective.... a weekly column from Dover and Deal MP Gwyn

5 February 2009

There was a time when conditions like dementia were relatively
rare but this is not the case today.

People are living much longer today, which is good news but it also
means that more people will go on to develop aging diseases such as

The figures are quite staggering, they show that over the next 10
years one million of us are likely to develop the condition and
without urgent action now we could be facing a dementia crisis that
could stretch our National Health Service and overwhelm our social
care services.

Here in East Kent, we have a much higher proportion of elderly folk
than elsewhere and consequently our incidents of dementia are also
higher. That’s one of the reasons why I’m a member of the
Parliamentary Alzheimer’s Group and why I’ve welcomed this week’s
announcement from Secretary of State, Alan Johnson that Government
is rolling out the first ever National Dementia Strategy.

The Strategy, backed by £150 million during this spending period,
will increase awareness of dementia, ensure early diagnosis and
intervention and radically improve the quality of care that people
with the condition receive.

The strategy recognises that the number of people with dementia will
double over the next thirty years, and the cost of care and
treatment is likely to triple. Currently the direct costs of
dementia to the NHS are in the region of £3.3 billion per year.

Care for people with dementia will be transformed through a whole
series of innovations including the appointment of dementia
advisors; better training for GPs and the provision of a national
network of memory clinics staffed by specialists to provide early
diagnosis and treatment.

Dementia is one of the most important health issues that we face as
our population ages and the increased incidences and the projected
escalation of the condition are reflected in all parts of the
developed world.

The UK’s National Dementia Strategy, is a fully financed investment
and it sets out the importance of information, high quality services
and early diagnosis. This is a major landmark in improving services
for people with dementia and it also provides better support for
their carers and families.

A network of specialist services, such as memory clinics, will be
established across the country. Their focus will be on early
diagnosis and intervention for people with dementia and a senior
member of staff will be identified in every general hospital and
care home who will be charged with providing leadership to improve
the quality of care for people for dementia.

In an ageing society, caring for people with dementia is one of the
most important challenges we face and I know that for many people
diagnosis can be difficult, care can be patchy and without adequate
support, families can be under huge stress. The Strategy will change
all that.

The Chief Executive of the Alzheimer’s Society has also welcomed the
Strategy saying: “This announcement sets out an ambitious national
rescue plan to transform the lives of people living with dementia”
and he’s absolutely right.