Social care professionals have been urged to help connect dementia patients with their communities after an Alzheimer’s Society survey revealed widespread social exclusion for the group.
Sixty one per cent of people with dementia felt alone all or some of the time and 48% felt they were a burden on their family, found the charity’s Dementia 2012 report, which was based on a survey of people with early stage dementia living in their own homes.
In addition, 61% said the community they lived in had little or no understanding of how to help them live well, 22% told the charity that they did not feel part of their community and 40% had lost friends following their diagnosis.
The report was published on the day that the government committed to double research spending on dementia and boost funding for early diagnosis in hospitals.
It also comes with the government expected to set out how social workers can play a greater role in helping connect individuals to their communities in its forthcoming social care White Paper. Community social work approaches are currently being employed in areas including Sutton in South London, Derbyshire and Walsall.
Alzheimer’s Society called for health and social care services to help ensure that people maintained and developed social networks. It also called for support to be given to community agencies, businesses and other organisations to understand people with dementia and their carers and to enable them to live well.
“People with dementia want to stay supported in their own homes and communities,” said Alzheimer’s Society senior policy officer Chris Quince. “Social care professionals are absolutely essential in providing the support people with dementia need for this.”
The report also found a lack of personalised care and information and advice for people with dementia. Over a fifth (21%) said they never had any choice over the support they received, while 16% said professionals did not involve them in decisions about their care.
An Alzheimer’s Society report last November found that people with dementia were not reaping the full benefits of personal budgets because of inadequate information and a lack of knowledge on the part of professionals. Its latest study follows calls for a review into personal budgets for older people, particularly those with dementia, from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services.
The Dementia 2012 report called for people with the condition to have access to a named contact throughout their lives and access to peer support. It also urged commissioners to integrate health and social care support for the group and shift resources out of acute and residential care into prevention, to enable people to stay in their own homes.