Care for people diagnosed with dementia is ‘inadequate and still not fit for purpose’, three years after the government launched its dementia challenge, a new report for the Alzheimer’s Society has said.
The report, shared exclusively with HSJ, also calls for carers of people with dementia employed or contracted by local authorities, to be paid a minimum wage as well as improved training and better post diagnosis support for sufferers and families.
While the Dementia Today and Tomorrow report recognises there has been progress, it says there are still wide variations in the quality of care.
David Cameron issued his three year dementia challenge in March 2012 after the Department of Health launched a five year strategy on dementia in 2009.
The new report, by consultancy Deloitte, included a literature review, two roundtable events and a survey of experts at a series of workshops with people affected by dementia.
The report says reforms in the health system in recent years have created uncertainty about the resources available to charities and the voluntary sector which must be addressed as “a matter of urgency”.
- Lessons from Japan: Tackle the dementia challenge by supporting carers
- Dementia services improved through £1m grant
It concludes: “General awareness of dementia among the public has improved, as has professional awareness and understanding, with some excellent examples of care now emerging.
“However, there is also evidence of wide variations in the quality of care, and that for far too many people with dementia and their carers the overall standard of care remains inadequate and is still not fit for purpose.
“Almost everyone with, or living with, someone with dementia finds life difficult, with care and support still a long way from meeting many peoples’ needs.”
The report also highlights “wide variations” in the ability for people to access community support services.
An estimated 850,000 people in the UK have dementia and 670,000 people are primary carers. Estimates suggest these figures are set to rise dramatically, with research by the Alzheimer’s Society putting the likely number of people with dementia at over 1 million by 2021.
Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the charity, told HSJ: “We would be the first to accept that a lot has been achieved, but there are blind spots which have not really progressed as much as we would have hoped for. Two of these are the post-diagnosis support to enable people to manage their dementia, and the support to family and volunteer careers and the need for that to be improved when we have a crumbling social care system.”
He warned of the dangers of not investing in the skills and wages of carers and added that greater integration was crucial.
“If you get genuine integration and the powerbrokers in health, which are the big hospitals, seriously taking on board and reprioritising the integrated system they are part of, then we are talking about better use and distribution of NHS funding rather than relying on what is a very limited supply of funding at the moment.”
A separate analysis by healthcare information firm CHKS has found improvement in hospitals identifying patients with dementia when they are admitted to acute hospitals. Researchers found 85 per cent of patients with dementia are now identified, compared to 83 per cent in the same study a year ago, and 77 per cent in 2011.