This week, news reports have emerged of long-awaited funding being made available from the Government to tackle the increasing difficulties that people face who have a form of dementia.
David Cameron has taken the issue as a personal priority as part of his “National Challenge on Dementia”.
Research funding is set to increase in the UK – more than almost doubling from the current position where funding is at around £26 million per year to some £66 million by 2015.
The Prime Minister also announced plans for all over-75s to be screened for dementia when they are admitted to hospital.
Mr Cameron said: ‘Dementia is a terrible disease. It is a scandal we haven’t kept pace with it. The level of diagnosis, understanding and awareness of dementia is shockingly low. It is as though we’ve been in collective denial”.
Speaking at this week’s conference held in London by the Alzheimer’s Society, the promise of additional funding is of course welcome news for the estimated 750,000 people who suffer from the disease, and – of course – for those who care for or have a family member to look after with the disease.
That number is in the millions.
The announcement is, though, only one side of the coin.
Research is vitally important in developing medication, therapies and approaches to the treatment of Dementia. But we have a problem today.
Care and support for those families who are faced with caring for a friend, relative, wife, husband or partner have real issues here and now. The cost of care is enormous for individuals and help from Social Services is often difficult to access in the current cost-cutting climate.
Many people are forced into paying for care homes rather than being helped to remain in their own homes.
David Rogers, chair of the Local Government Association’s wellbeing board, has said:
"Without fundamental reform and sufficient funding we risk losing the public's trust and confidence in our ability to do the best for people in later life.
"We now need politicians to transcend political point-scoring and wake up to the ticking demographic time bomb this country is facing."
By community care advisor and associate, Pete Donohue