Headlines: September 22nd, 2008

Dementia should not be seen as a life sentence according to Directors of Adult Social Services in their response to a Government consultation on transforming the quality of dementia care. In a joint submission with the Local Government Association they say delivering better care will need significant investment.

The joint response says it is vitally important to ensure, when raising awareness of dementia, that early symptoms are not downplayed or dismissed as part of the natural ageing process. John Beer, the secretary of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said improved care for people with dementia, whether in hospital or the community, was long overdue.

The two organisations, however, are clear about the financial implications of improving dementia services. “Delivery requires significant investment to ensure there are appropriate resources to fund first class community based services for those with dementia and their carers, extra support for existing community mental health teams for older people, and a general enhancement of social services,” their submission says.

They accept that some of the money that is needed could come from a reduction in the number of admissions to residential care, but say that does not take account of the full costs of additional staffing that would be needed to deliver the Government’s strategy. They point out, too, that there needs to be recognition of the fact that for some areas, which have a disproportionately high number of older people, the financial burden on individual local authorities may be significantly higher.

ADASS and the LGA also highlight the importance of recruiting, retaining and training high quality staff, the need for improved home care services and specific reference in the strategy to the needs of younger people with dementia.