The dementia strategy is an excellent opportunity for NHS and councils to plan for the expected rise in dementia sufferers
The public consultation on the first ever national dementia strategy for England, launched last week by the Department of Health, is a landmark for people with dementia and their carers. This ambitious five-year plan is a great start in radically improving the experience of the 570,000 people with dementia across England.
Too often care staff are left to care for people with dementia without being provided with specialist training. Empowering all health and social care staff involved in the care of people with dementia by equipping them with the skills they need to provide best-quality care, is one of the strategy’s most important recommendations.
We want to see agreed national core competences for dementia care in all relevant pre-registration curriculums and professional development. Dementia awareness training needs to be regarded as essential to providers of care and standards must be put in place to regulate this.
We hear from too many people affected by dementia who find it a battle to obtain essential information and advice from our complex health and social care system. The proposed development of memory assessment services will give people with dementia a one-stop shop where they can receive a diagnosis and access information and advice.
No one should have to go through dementia alone. Dementia care advisers would provide people with dementia and their carers a point of contact for advice on where to get help locally. There needs to be enough advisers to ensure we see gains in both quality and efficiency of care.
We need to act now to cater for the soaring numbers of people with dementia. The strategy explains that NHS and local authority managers need to plan carefully and specifically for the needs of their local dementia population.
This draft strategy makes important recommendations to improve early diagnosis, raise awareness and increase quality of care. Now we need money and leadership to get this right. The Alzheimer’s Society was asked to work on the strategy as a recognised expert and to make sure that people affected by dementia have a voice in its development. We will continue to do this throughout the consultation and look forward to working with NHS, local authorities and others to improve things.
It’s time to ensure that people with dementia and those who care for them personally and professionally get the recognition they deserve.
Neil Hunt is chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society