Action on dementia needed now, says Dying Matters chief

11 December 2013
As the Government announces its aspiration to double research funding for dementia, Dying Matters Chief Executive Eve Richardson says money must be spent on improving the lives of people who are living with the condition now.

Ahead of the first ever G8 Dementia Summit, David Cameron announced the Government's ambition to double public, commercial and charitable research and development in dementia in the UK by 2025. The Government will work with pharmaceutical companies and charities to develop new treatments and drugs, detailed studies and a sharing of data across the new UK Dementia Platform. 

While welcoming the news of increased funding, Dying Matters and National Council for Palliative Care (NCPC) Chief Executive Eve Richardson said the money should be spent on improving the care of people with dementia now, not just seeking a cure. She said: "On the day that London plays host to the special G8 dementia summit, we welcome the Prime Minister’s calls for the UK to lead the world in dementia research.

"For far too long people with dementia have been overlooked and unable to access services, and there’s never been a better opportunity to redress that balance. However, whilst the Government has made clear its aspiration to see a doubling of funding of public, commercial and charitable research and development into dementia by 2025, in many ways this is nowhere near an ambitious enough target, given that one in three of us aged over 65 will have dementia and may live for many years with it and other conditions by the time that we die.

"As well as increased investment in research to bring about the scientific breakthroughs that could hold the key to slowing down or even preventing the onset of the illness, we hope that the Government comes away from the G8 summit with a renewed commitment to taking action here and now, including through improved training for health and care staff and much better access to services, so that people with dementia get the early diagnosis that can make a real difference, as well as the care and support that is right for them. Indeed, this was one of the key messages from across the political spectrum at last week’s joint meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Hospice and Palliative Care and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia.

"Whilst there are encouraging signs that things are moving in the right direction, much more must be done to make dementia friendly communities a reality across the country and to ensure that people with dementia, especially advanced dementia, have timely access to care, support and advice and treatment round the clock, including as they approach the end of their life.

"This requires better training for GPs and all health, social care and housing staff to identify and support people with dementia, an overhaul of housing and other services to make them fit for purpose, a better understanding of the pain and distress experienced by people with dementia and how this can be managed by taking a  person-centred approach and more joining up of end of life care and dementia agendas, especially around  training.

"Health and social care staff can lead the way in opening up early conversations with people with dementia, but they need support too. This is one of the reasons why NCPC has developed new resources to help them to do this, including How would I know? What can I do?, which offers user friendly guidance on dealing with pain and agitation for those who may not be able to communicate about the cause, and Time to Talk, Doc?: A GP training DVD,which uses GPs and real life scenarios about initiating and continuing sensitive  conversations with people affected by dementia, to include those not yet ready to talk, family conflict, to issues around  end of life wishes around wills and funerals as well as place of care and support for family too."

More

The Government press release in full

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