It’s time to give dementia care the focus it needs

Many of us last night watched the programme ‘Care’ on BBC1. It was, in many ways a telling and moving story of the struggles we hear every day at Dementia UK. As dementia unfolds, and experiences of caring for the person can become more stressed and complex; what people need most of all are people who can help and support.

Every day, right across the UK stories like these are played out.

We are a society that is ageing, and one that is ageing with dementia. Of course we need our scientists to continue to look for ‘cures’ but, as the programme showed, right now we have the burning need to care. It is simply not good enough for our services to push carers from pillar to post, and continually have to battle to get the help that they and people living with dementia deserve. Every day, right across the UK stories like these are played out. Services have been stretched across health and social care and are disjointed. Whilst we have the rhetoric of better times ahead as the system connects up to deliver more, the evidence of that actually happening is small. Yes there have been some successes, and a few are benefitting, but there are still too many stories mirroring what we watched last night.

We have inertia in our decision making and government papers we’ve been promised have not yet materialised. The pathways and aspirations of better services lies embedded in PowerPoints rather than actually being experienced on the ground. Workforces and funding are stretched, and whilst there are good people doing good things across our services in the front line, there is simply not enough resource to meet the demand. This is not a new issue of course and successive governments have failed to recognise the growing need of people with dementia and their families.

We are continually looking to do more – and we will.

And at the end of all of this are people; families doing their best in adapting and coping to changing situations at home. People with dementia, trying to adapt and cope with the impact of declining cognition and increasing need for others to help. We, at Dementia UK, provide specialist nursing to support people with dementia and their carers right through the dementia journey. Last year our nurses supported over 50,000 people, affected by dementia. We understand what is needed and we are continually looking to do more – and we will.

I don’t think anyone can under-estimate the scale and the needs of a whole society facing dementia, and we need action now to put in place things that can help. At the core of this issue is the emotional, physical, social and psychological wellbeing of hundreds of thousands living with and affected by dementia. If that isn’t our biggest and most deserving health and societal challenge, then I don’t know what is.

– Paul Edwards, Dementia UK Director of Clinical Services   

If you’ve been affected by the programme, or need any further advice or support, please contact our Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline on 0800 888 6678 or email helpline@dementiauk.org.