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UK to be 'the world’s most dementia friendly society’

Government sets out its commitments on dementia

Jo Carlowe

Monday, 07 March 2016

The UK Government has published its plans for tackling dementia, which it claims will make the UK the most dementia friendly society in the world by 2020.

The implementation plan, published on Sunday, outlines a series of commitments including:

  • An aim for 10% of people with a dementia diagnosis to take part in research. 
  • A pilot scheme to extend discussions of dementia risk reduction to the NHS Health Check for people over 40. Alzheimer’s Research UK, together with other organisations, will help to develop this pilot.
  • Moves to improve the quality of care for people with dementia.

Other goals listed, include focusing on staff training, increasing the number of ‘Dementia Friends’ to 4 million by 2020, and establishing at least 100 more Dementia Friendly Communities. In addition, a new Dementia Research Institute will be established.

Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said: “I want Britain to be the best place in the world to live well with dementia. Last Parliament we made massive strides on diagnosis rates and research – the global race is now on to find a cure for dementia and I want the UK to win it.”

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We applaud the Government’s firm commitment to make the UK the most dementia friendly place in the world. Until recently, people with dementia were effectively cast out from society, but the tide is now turning. There are now nearly 1.5 million dementia friends helping to drive this change, and communities up and down the country are working to make streets, towns and cities more inclusive.”

However, he added: “But still many people with dementia face stigma and a health and care system that simply does not work for them - resulting in emergency hospital admissions, extended stays and desperate loneliness. We look forward to leading the continued transformation of society and investment in research so that, by 2020, people with dementia get the support they need every day of the year – whether that be at home, in residential care, hospital or in the wider community.”

Hilary Evans, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Research UK, welcomed the new plan.

“Since the first Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge was launched we’ve seen real progress in the fight against this devastating condition, and the beginnings of a social movement to rally people behind that fight. There is still much work to do, and Alzheimer’s Research UK welcomes this plan which signals a strong commitment to build on the achievements of recent years. We look forward to working with the Government to deliver action on research and help accelerate the development of much-needed new treatments, preventions and improvements in diagnosis.”

Commenting, David Mayhew, Chairman of Alzheimer’s Research UK and the Prime Minister’s Dementia Envoy, said: “This plan lays out a clear direction for driving forward improved care, new treatments and greater awareness, and it will be important to link this strategy to international efforts if we are to have the greatest impact. We must push ahead with renewed urgency – the 850,000 people with dementia in the UK are counting on us.”

The announcement coincides with findings published today that show many people in the late stages of dementia are not having their needs met in UK care homes. 

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