Policy

Improving care for people with dementia

Issue

There are around 800,000 people with dementia in the UK, and the disease costs the economy £23 billion a year. By 2040, the number of people affected is expected to double - and the costs are likely to treble.

Actions

Diagnosis rates

A lot can be done to help people cope with the symptoms of dementia. But at the moment, the diagnosis rate in England is only 45% - lower than Scotland and Northern Ireland.

We want to increase diagnosis rates so that they’re among the best in Europe by:

  • making sure that doctors give 65 to 74 year olds information about memory services as part of the NHS health check programme, and refer them for assessment if they need it (from April 2013)
  • making £1 million available for innovative NHS projects to increase diagnosis rates through the Innovation Challenge Prize for Dementia
  • launching a new toolkit to help GPs provide better support

Health and care services

A quarter of hospital beds are occupied by people with dementia. To improve health and care services for people with dementia, by March 2013 we are:

  • asking every hospital in England to commit to becoming dementia-friendly
  • linking £54 million in funding for hospital dementia risk assessments to the quality of dementia care
  • making the dementia information on the Our Health South West website available nationally, so people have a better understanding of the services available in their local area

We’re also:

Dementia-friendly communities

While it’s very common, dementia is not very well understood. People often don’t ask for help because there’s still a stigma attached. Or they think - wrongly - that the symptoms are a normal part of ageing, and that nothing can be done.

To get across the message that people with dementia can be helped, we’re raising awareness and working with lots of different organisations to create dementia-friendly communities.

Dementia research

Scientists understand less about dementia than they do about other major diseases like cancer or heart disease. To increase scientific knowledge of dementia - and potentially make new treatments possible - we are increasing annual funding of dementia research to around £66 million by 2015.

Background

National Dementia Strategy

The National Dementia Strategy, published in 2009, set new standards for dementia care. Since then, treatment using antipsychotic drugs - which can have major side effects - has become far less common.

Dementia Challenge

The Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge launched in March 2012. It sets out plans to go further and faster in improving dementia care, focusing on raising diagnosis rates and improving the skills and awareness needed to support people with dementia - and their carers. It also has details of plans to improve dementia research.

Who we’re working with

The progress of the Dementia Challenge is overseen by three groups of ‘champions’. Their latest progress report was published in November 2012.

We’re working with the Alzheimer’s Society on the dementia awareness campaign.

We co-operated with NHS England to put together guidance for local NHS services on improving dementia diagnosis rates.

We’re working with a range of organisations to improve diagnosis rates and health and care services. These include clinical commissioning groups, local health and wellbeing boards, local NHS services, the royal medical colleges, care home and homecare providers and the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADASS).

The Dementia Action Alliance is made up of over 150 organisations which have signed up to the National Dementia Declaration, first published in October 2010. Members of the alliance are committed to working together to improve things for people with dementia and their carers, and each has published an action plan setting out what they will do up to 2014.

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