A smiling carer chats with an elderly lady

Dementia – Momentum for real progress on the ground?

Day after day the stories pour on to the front pages about abuse in care homes, the inadequacy of 15 minute visits and the difficulties in obtaining a diagnosis. The struggles of carers were set out in the recent report from the Carers Trust.  We hear similar stories direct from the families we support.

For many families with loved ones diagnosed with dementia, the care system is very often a journey into a series of culs-de-sac.  The process for obtaining NHS Continuing Care is one of the challenges that so many families face, but they simply do not have the resource or time to pursue it.  The outcome is all too often unpredictable, unclear and unfair.

Looming on the horizon is the G8 UK Dementia Summit in December. Last week’s announcement about a possible medical breakthrough will be little comfort to those families dealing with the challenges that the system is throwing at them now.  Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt may be right when he says that drug companies may have a cure for dementia by 2020, but without the necessary resources, will those treatments be available? For those stuck in the system now, the signs are not good.

Local Authorities faced with the burden of implementing the Care Bill 2013 are likely to be overwhelmed despite the additional funding to support the implementation of the Bill.  It is a mammoth task; a task that in practice will benefit very few when it has been brought in.  The stated aim of putting the individual at the heart of their care plan, integrating social and health care and supporting families to provide financial security are all laudable, but on the ground families and carers are unlikely to experience much change.

The “all-out fight-back” will need to be backed by money and not just rhetoric – the G8 Dementia Summit offers a good opportunity for the Government to review that commitment.