I have been contacted by a number of constituents as part of a campaign in support of Alzheimer Society's Dementia Fund.
Dementia is caused by diseases that affect the brain. Yet unlike other diseases, people with dementia do not receive most of their care from the NHS. Instead, they are passed on to the social care system, leaving them facing catastrophic care costs.
There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, with that figure expected to rise to more than a million by 2021.
Over the past two decades, the average cost of a nursing home place has almost doubled and is now nearing £1,000 a week. The typical cost of dementia care is £100,000.
On top of this, because dementia is complex and requires specialist support, care for people with dementia is often 15% more expensive than it is for other people using social care. This ‘dementia penalty’ places a disproportionate and unacceptable financial burden on individuals and their families.
As part of their Fix Dementia Care campaign, Alzheimer’s Society is calling for a £2.4 billion Dementia Fund in the upcoming Spending Review to end the dementia penalty, bring fairness into the system and improve quality of care.
I was more than happy to co-sponor an Early Day Motion in Parliament (EDM 2360) in support of the Dementia Fund. The EDM read as follows:
That this House notes that an estimated 60 per cent of recipients of homecare and 70 per cent of care home residents live with dementia; acknowledges that dementia is a condition caused by diseases of the brain with complex support needs that should be met by the NHS, like any other health condition; recognises that the typical cost of dementia care of £100,000 can be financially devastating for individuals and families; welcomes the Alzheimer’s Society’s proposal for a Dementia Fund as a financial injection into the social care system in the short-to-medium term, allowing for greater provision of safe and quality care, longer visits and savings to the NHS; believes that this could be financed through unallocated funding for community and preventative support in the NHS Long-Term Plan; and urges the Government to include a Dementia Fund in the forthcoming Spending Review to break the deadlock on reforming the social care system and end the unfairness facing people with dementia.
I believe it is important that we keep striving to increase both the number of dementia sufferers that get a proper diagnosis, and the support for individuals following a diagnosis. It is essential that we have a robust and effective response to the growing number of people living with dementia. The timely diagnosis of a debilitating condition like dementia is vital, especially as the medication available works better when begun at the early stages of the disease.
I welcome the efforts of the Alzeimer's Society and I will continue to do what I can to urge the Government to take action.