I don’t deny that awareness in dementia is crucially important, but we do need to face some unpalatable facts – there is not an unlimited ‘money tree’ for dementia. It is morally unacceptable to continue Dementia Friends from the Alzheimer’s Society, Public Health England and marketing companies from the tune of millions, while social care is on its knees.
In this list of achievements compiled by the the Alzheimer’s Society of the Harold Macmillan variety, “you never had it so good”, there is absolutely no mention of the parlour state of social care funding.
Dementia cannot be a brand solely for the benefit of the surplus of large charities. People living with dementia and carers need much more support.
Whilst some people have benefitted enormously from the Prime Minister Dementia Challenge, others have been totally wrecked.
The claim that the UK will be the best place to have dementia is a complete lie, and people should stop pedalling it.
The wreck of devestation in dementia care is disastrous and consistent.
In August 2016, it was reported that carers and families of people with learning or physical disabilities or dementia, that use Hertfordshire County Council’s day services were appealing to the Council to rethink plans to reduce staff and activities.
Stephen, who cares for his wife who has dementia and attends a centre three times a week, has written to the Council objecting to the proposals.
He said: “The day centre provides social interaction and care for my wife and gives me a break from caring so that I can continue working. Please look again at the proposals and come up with a more justifiable approach.”
Stephen continued: “If the day care service is reduced it may lead to problems and greater costs elsewhere in the care service. Replacing in-house catering and the flexibility it offers with a delivered meal may mean that some centre users with specific eating habits, may not get a balanced nutritional meal.”
Many people with dementia will need care and support as their condition progresses. This is often a mix of care from family, friends and professionals. Paid care can take a number of different forms and focuses on meeting the person’s needs to improve their wellbeing. In the UK, the term ‘social care’ is often used to describe this type of care, as opposed to care that is provided by the NHS or by families.
MPs have now painted a hugely grim picture of the future for health and social care, saying the scale of the funding challenge in health is “colossal” and historical cuts to social care funding have gone beyond the search for “efficiencies”.
Little-known fact: the tune Nero played while Rome burnt was called “efficiency savings”. #NHS
— David Schneider (@davidschneider) October 15, 2016
The Health Committee in a recent report on Impact of the Spending Review on health and social care has revealed that the NHS is under ‘unprecedented strain and struggling to keep pace with relentlessly rising demand’.
Reductions in how much local authorities pay care homes, or below-inflation increases, mean that some are on the brink of collapse, leaving vulnerable people at risk.
The cuts, combined with shortages of nurses and care workers, the introduction of the “national living wage” for staff and increasing reliance on people who can fund their own care, mean that many care homes are under unprecedented pressure.
And now the possibility of large-scale provider failures is highly likely, and such a failure would jeopardise the continuity of the care on which many people with dementia depend. Unless the government addresses the chronic underfunding, there will be devastating consequences.
“Savings” have become very dangerous for dementia, cutting services and reducing budgets. That’s anything from closing day centres to carrying out fewer home visits.
Councils have worked hard to protect budgets, but dementia never ‘travels alone’, with more needing support and increasingly complex needs, fewer are getting help and councils are having to make unacceptable cuts.
The 1948 settlement – which established the NHS as a universal service, free at the point of use, and social care as a separately funded, means-tested service – is no longer fit for purpose. With so many people living longer with a mixture of needs that cross the boundaries of health and social care, the historic divide between the two systems is not in my view acceptable or justifiable any more.
The independent Commission on the Future of Health and Social Care in England in England, chaired by economist Kate Barker, was established by The King’s Fund to consider the case for change and how to ensure adequate funding to meet future needs. It suggested a radical package of measures to pay for this including tax reforms, limiting some universal benefits paid to older people and changes to prescription charges.
Adult social care and the future of dementia care are beyond doubt now at a crossroads. Social care is at risk of becoming a residual service available only to those with certain incomes and highest needs, leaving thousands of people and their families struggling to meet the costs of care
There’s now striking agreement that social care should be the immediate priority if any more funding is available, and this is desperately needed for dementia care.