Dementia care is poorly prioritised and funded, Community Care readers have warned in an exclusive survey to launch our campaign to force the issue to the top of the political agenda.
Despite the government’s publication of a dementia strategy for England in February 2009, 89% of respondents felt the issue was given insufficient national priority and 97% were not confident that sufficient resources were in place nationally to adequately fund dementia care.
More than four in 10 said the standard of dementia care in their area was quite or very poor, while just 12% said it was good; 86% said their local NHS had not made dementia a sufficient priority.
Social workers not given time
Ruth Cartwright (right), joint manager for England at the British Association of Social Workers, said: “Social workers, many of whom have some expertise, are not given time to work with sufferers and their families. There is of course good and excellent practice going on but it is not valued and disseminated.”
Two-thirds felt that the national strategy had little or no impact in their area, with less than one in 10 saying it had a positive effect on services.
Andrew Chidgey, head of policy and public affairs at the Alzheimer’s Society, said the survey “adds to a growing body of evidence that dementia is a long way from being a local priority everywhere”.
It follows a critical report from the National Audit Office and this month’s all-party parliamentary group on dementia study, which found most primary care trusts could not identify funds earmarked to implement the strategy.
Strategy funding diverted
Simon Williams, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services’ lead on dementia, pointed to the all-party group’s finding that funding earmarked for dementia care under the strategy had not been used for its desired purpose by many PCTs.
“Without the use of the funds earmarked for 2009-10,” he said “it is not surprising that change on the ground has yet to show through in a significant way.”
Martin Green (right), chief executive of the English Community Care Association and independent sector dementia champion, agreed: “No local NHS or social care department should be allowed to produce any plan that doesn’t put dementia at least as one of its top five priorities.”
Jo Webber, deputy policy director at the NHS Confederation, said: “Improving dementia care is a high priority for PCTs but commissioners must also balance a number of competing demands in order to fund the best possible care for local populations.”
Care services minister Phil Hope responded to the survey, saying: “Wholesale change will not happen overnight – dementia services vary enormously by region and there is still a long way to go.”
Readers tell us what went wrong
“Eligibility criteria mitigate against the possibility of working with people in the early stages of dementia.”
An assessment and advice worker from London
“The main issue really is funding which obviously affects client to staff ratio and training.”
A domiciliary care practitioner
“If there was improved training and information given to carers the quality of the lives of people with dementia could be greatly improved.”
A residential care practitioner from the North West
Community Care’s dementia campaign