Dementia care “inconsistent and unsustainable,” National Audit Office report warns

People with dementia are seen as a low priority by social care and health services despite a steep rise in the number of people with the condition, a National Audit Office report out today finds. 

Only a third to half of people with dementia ever receive a formal diagnosis, while frontline staff often lack sufficient awareness and understanding of dementia, according to the report.

Less than a quarter of beds in the care home sector are registered specialist dementia beds, and appropriate end of life care for people with dementia is “very limited,” it says.

There are at least 560,000 people with dementia in England, with the number of cases expected to rise by over 30 per cent over the next 15 years due to the rising ageing population, according to figures cited in the report. It says dementia costs the economy £14.3 billion a year, including direct costs to the NHS and social care of £3.3 billion a year.

The report argues that the Department of Health must “champion” and improve dementia services and calls for the NHS and social care organisations to work together to raise understanding of the condition.

Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, said today: “Our rapidly ageing population means that costs for addressing dementia will continue to increase, and without redesign, services for people with dementia are likely to become increasingly inconsistent and unsustainable. Dementia can no longer be set aside. The issues raised in this report need to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

More information

Improving services and support for people with dementia – National Audit Office report

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