Dementia services need to be protected from cuts

Four out of five people (83 per cent) think people with dementia and their carers need more help and support yet almost as many (72 per cent) fear dementia care could fall victim to cuts.

The research, conducted by the Dementia Action Alliance (DAA), comes as the largest ever united front against dementia holds its first annual conference in London. If fears are realised, hundreds of thousands of people will be left without vital care in their own homes with activities such as eating, washing and going to the toilet, or not be able to access quality residential care when it is needed.

In the current environment, more people want to see social care for older people saved from cuts (36 per cent) than other local authority services, such as children’s services (18 per cent), bin collections (15 per cent) or libraries (5 per cent). Over 2,000 people were surveyed by YouGov on behalf of the DAA.

The DAA is now calling for more to be done to protect these services.

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘What this research shows is that people are finally beginning to appreciate the plight of people with dementia. They rightly judged that they are often being let down by substandard support and that this situation is only going to get worse if swingeing cuts kick in.

‘No one can ignore the dire economic situation we are in but good quality dementia care makes financial sense. It can prevent people needing hospital care or having to go into a care home earlier than necessary. Even more importantly it helps people have a quality life.  We have to get this right.’

Peter Hay, President of Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said: ‘ADASS has supported and encouraged new approaches to deal with the major changes in the needs of our populations occurring through dementia. This has been shown by our commitment to personalising services to vulnerable people; advising the Law Commission on the changes to the legal framework in which adult care is practised, and broadly welcoming the Dilnot Commission’s recommendations on funding adult social care. We urgently need these changes in practice, law and resources in order to create a care system based on the needs of the twenty first century.’

David Sims, 43, from London, who organises care at home for his mother who is living with vascular dementia, said: ‘We want my mum to live in the family home for as long as possible, and so we employ care staff to help her with everyday, vital things such as preparing meals. They will also often spend time simply sitting and having a chat with her which is just as important. One carer who visits my mum goes beyond her call of duty, and pay, to ensure my mum is happy. I hate to think what we would do without her support.’

The DAA was set up in October 2010, bringing together almost 80 organisations from the charity, public and private sector. It was set up to bring about radical changes in the way society responds to dementia and to transform quality of life for people living with the condition.