Dementia strategy will fail without extra funding says sector

More funding needed to kick start dementia strategy

The government must find significant extra funding if its national dementia strategy is to succeed, health and social care leaders have said.

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, Local Government Association, Alzheimer’s Society, English Community Care Association and NHS Confederation used their responses to the strategy consultation, which closed last week, to call for more investment.

Most respondents backed the objectives laid out in the consultation paper, published in June.

These included:

● The creation of early diagnosis and intervention services in all areas.

● Core training in dementia for all care staff working with older people.

● Comprehensive home support services.

● Improved access to mental health services for care home residents.

● A regulatory requirement for all care homes to be able to provide dementia care.

In a joint response, Adass and the LGA said each of these would require additional resources over the course of the strategy, from 2009 to 2014.

On the workforce front, it said there was currently “little incentive for staff to remain in this difficult and challenging area when better paid alternative employment is readily available”.

The associations also pointed to the fact that many people with mild dementia were excluded from council-funded social care because they fell below eligibility thresholds.

When care services minister Ivan Lewis launched the consultation, he said additional resources would be available but did not specify a figure.

The only costed plan in the consultation paper was for early diagnosis and intervention services, which would require £220m a year.

Adass vice-president Jenny Owen, who co-chairs the working group on developing the strategy, said that with government spending limits for 2008-11 already set, significant extra investment may have to wait until 2011-14 with the first two years of the strategy being more preparatory.

Alzheimer’s Society head of policy Andrew Chidgey warned efficiency savings should not be relied upon in the first years of the strategy as “we are starting from such a low base in dementia”.

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