Livewire - November 28, 2012

Have your say

By Paul Maynard MP Blackpool North and Cleveleys

Those who know me know how important an issue dementia care is to me. I am delighted that this month the Prime Minister introduced Britain’s biggest ever awareness raising project on dementia.

Under a scheme that will provide free coaching sessions on how to spot the signs of dementia and support people who have it, a million people are set to become ‘Dementia Friends’ by 2015.

This is a tremendous step forward for all involved in the fight to highlight how important it is that people with dementia get the care they need. In England there are currently 670,000 people with dementia and in the next decade that number is set to rise to a million.

This is not an issue that we, as a country, can ignore. Thankfully the Government is putting its money where its mouth is.

Some £9.6m has been made available for dementia research through the expansion of the UK Biobank, which will see 500,000 individuals aged 40-69 recruited to provide DNA and other data. This will include 100,000 brain scans to help us find out why some people develop dementia while others do not.

And £50m has been made available for creating specially adapted wards and care home spaces to improve the experience of people with dementia. £1m prize has been offered to any NHS organisation that finds a way to drastically reduce undiagnosed cases of dementia.

But tackling dementia is not only about money, it is about taking an active interest in patients and spotting the signs.

The Prime Minister also announced GPs will get new training to help them spot and diagnose dementia. GPs will also be required to ask about their patients’ memory as part of every standard health check.

There will be a new cross country schools and youth project to help young people become more aware about dementia and how to deal with it.

A new commitment that every patient diagnosed with dementia will be able to expect detailed guidance on services, as part of the ‘Our Health’ online services directories across England and 1,800 homes and sites caring for more than 200,000 people have signed up to the ‘dementia care compact’ committing them to high standards of care for people with dementia.

The progress being made under this Government on this issue is extremely encouraging. As someone who has been fighting for this kind of change for so long I’m delighted to see the Government’s commitment to getting behind people translating into such definite action.