David Cameron's pledge to double the government's investment into dementia care made national news andDan Parton(26/03/12) believes the extra funds can't be used soon enough:
Prime Minister David Cameron's announcement of a national"dementia challenge" and a bid to improve awareness, care andsupport for people with the condition and research into it iswelcome news - and long overdue.
With the numbers of people in the UK with dementia continuallyrising - an estimated 800,000 people currently have the condition,and this is set to break the 1 million mark within the next decade,according to the Alzheimer's Society - it has to be a nationalhealth and social care priority, especially as it is estimated tocost society £23 billion.
Now, it appears it will be, with public awareness campaignsplanned, as well as consultations on how to improve quality of lifefor people with dementia - which are due to report back later thisyear - and a doubling of the amount put towards research intodementia.
The public awareness campaign is needed because there is stillstigma attached to the condition - as the Alzheimer's Societyreport 'Dementia 2012: A national challenge' revealed, nearly halfof those diagnosed have lost friends as a result.
Care and support also needs to change. The Alzheimer's Societyreport found that 75% of the general public don't think society isgeared up to deal with people with dementia. There needs to be moredone to help people with dementia live well - whether that'sremaining independent for longer or being treated with dignity andrespect in a care home - and again that is a welcome commitmentfrom the Government.
That the funding given to dementia research is to be doubled to£66 million by 2015 is also much needed. For many years dementiahas been the poor relation when compared to other conditions suchas cancer and heart disease, despite it affecting more people inthe UK.
However, it should be noted that even with this extra money,funding for dementia research will still lag behind cancer andheart disease. Nevertheless, it should increase the amount ofresearch into dementia and, as chief medical officer, ProfessorDame Sally Davies, said: "This will accelerate the identificationof causes, cures and better ways of caring for a disease that issuch a burden on patients, carers and society."
It's not often there are good news stories like this, and itshould be celebrated. But whether it turns out to be "turningpoint" in the battle against dementia, as Shirley Cramer, chiefexecutive of Alzheimer's Research UK said, remains to beseen.
These are all fine words from the Prime Minister and others, butit needs to be backed up with actions. The targets set out by theGovernment for what needs to happen in the next 3 years areambitious - but focus and pressure needs to be kept up to ensurethey are delivered. The national dementia "crisis" - as Cameronreferred to it as - cannot be allowed to get any worse.