Having watched my Dad suffer from early-onset dementia due to a head injury, I was proud to support Dementia Action Week. This annual event sees people across the UK take action to improve the lives of those affected by dementia. I just wanted to take this opportunity to share some of the latest information on the action the Government is taking to support those living with dementia, fund research and tackle the impact of the pandemic.
NHS Long Term Plan
Firstly, the NHS Long Term Plan (LTP) made a range of commitments related to better supporting people suffering with dementia. Over the past decade, the NHS has successfully doubled the dementia diagnosis rate and halved the prescription of antipsychotic drugs, as well as improving public awareness and professional understanding. The LTP committed to providing better support for people with dementia through a more active focus on helping people in the community through enhanced community multidisciplinary teams and the NHS Comprehensive Model of Personal Care. The NHS will continue to work closely with the voluntary sector, including supporting the Alzheimer's Society to extend its Dementia Connect programme which offers a range of advice and support for people following a dementia diagnosis.
70% of people in care homes have dementia or severe memory problems. In many cases, the progression of the illness is such that, during the middle stage, people can become lost at home, need help with personal care and experience behaviour changes including wandering, therefore requiring home care. As a result, social care is an extremely important consideration for people suffering with Dementia, and their loved ones.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, unpaid carers supporting someone with dementia save the UK economy £13.9 billion a year: the total cost of care for people with dementia in the UK is £34.7billion. This is set to rise sharply over the next two decades, to £94.1billion by 2040. The cost of social care for people with dementia is set to nearly treble by 2040, increasing from £15.7billion to £45.4billion.
Research is crucial to understanding and tackling dementia. In 2017, the Government launched the UK Dementia Research Institute in partnership with the Alzheimer's Society and Alzheimer's Research UK with £290m funding - the single biggest investment ever made in the UK in this field. Under the Challenge on Dementia 2020 strategy, the Government's commitment to spend over £300m on dementia research between 2015 and 2020 was met a year early, with £341m being spent by March 2019 through the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department of Health and Social Care. The Government is also supporting the £79 million Accelerating Detection of Disease challenge, a project bringing together the NHS, industry and leading charities to support research into the early diagnosis of disease, including dementia.
In the 2019 manifesto, the Government committed to doubling research funding to over £160 million each year by 2030; the Alzheimer’s Society is committed to spending at least £150 million over the next decade on dementia research focusing on improving care and finding a cure, as well as establishing the UK’s first dedicated Dementia Research Institute.
I hope you have found this informative and I would encourage everyone across Mid Sussex to take up the chance to train as a Dementia Friend, which will help you learn more about what it is like to live with dementia and turn that understanding into support for those living with Dementia. More information can be found here https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk