More Help For People With Dementia

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Health Minister Ivan Lewis outlined proposals to improve the quality of dementia care and provide more help for people with dementia, as he launched a consultation on the first ever National Dementia Strategy.

The full Strategy, to be launched in the Autumn, will have three main aims:

- to increase awareness of dementia and remove the stigma associated with it

- ensure early diagnosis and intervention

- improve the quality of care that people with dementia receive

Dementia can be a devastating disorder for those who develop the illness and the families that care for them. There are currently an estimated 570,000 people with dementia in England, and this figure is expected to double in the next 30 years.

The Government's announcement today includes a number of immediate actions, as well as other proposals which will be consulted on over the coming months. These include:

- An immediate review into the prescribing and use of anti-psychotic drugs to treat sufferers of dementia. This work will be completed before the publication of the National Dementia Strategy in the Autumn.

- The government will hold a summit over the summer with key stakeholders and research organisations to consider a planned programme of research into dementia and the potential for further development.

- Consult on the appointment of a named 'Dementia Care Advisor' to be the single contact throughout diagnosis and treatment for people with dementia

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- Consider the establishment of more memory clinics, where patients can get information about their condition, as well as learning techniques for improving their memory

- Engage with stakeholders on the recommendation for care homes and acute hospitals to have a key staff member identified as responsible for handling dementia patients, which will help care homes move away from drug-related therapies for tackling dementia

This is only part of a wider package of measures the government is taking to improve the lives of older people, including a 3 year social care transformation programme supported by ?500 million, the Dignity in Care campaign, the review of No Secrets and amending the Health and Social Care Bill to strengthen protection of the elderly in care homes.

Health Minister, Ivan Lewis, said:

"Dementia is a condition affecting an increasing number of families in our society and is one of the greatest challenges now facing NHS and social care services. That is why this first ever national dementia strategy is so important. It will set out how we will improve the quality of life for people with dementia and their families, improve the quality of care dementia sufferers receive, increase awareness of the condition and ensure earlier diagnosis and intervention.

"The consultation is about ensuring the final strategy we publish in the autumn truly fulfils my commitment to bring dementia out of the shadows."

Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said:

"Today is a landmark day for people with dementia and their carers, as the Government recognises dementia as a national priority. Dementia is a devastating condition caused by diseases of the brain, yet only a third of people ever receive a diagnosis and families are often left to cope alone until they reach crisis point.

"It's time to drag dementia care out of the dark ages and change the way we treat some of our most vulnerable older people. The Department's actions and proposals are a great start. The review of antipsychotic drugs to stop dangerous over prescription to people with dementia is urgently needed. The research summit is also a crucial opportunity to address the fact that dementia research is drastically underfunded in the UK.

"The Alzheimer's Society looks forward to leading the fight against dementia by working with the Government, NHS and local authorities to make this ambitious plan a reality."

The National Dementia Strategy is part of the wider package of measures the Government is taking to improve the lives of elderly people, including people with dementia. We have already launched the "Worried about your memory" campaign to increase awareness of dementia and are taking action through the publication of the Carers Strategy, the review of No Secrets and amending the Health and Social Care Bill to strengthen protection of the Elderly in Care Homes through the Human Rights Act.

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