Headlines: February 4th, 2009

Directors of Social Services have welcomed the new National Dementia Strategy as the basis for substantial and significant changes in attitudes to people with dementia and to the way the quality of care is improved. Meanwhile local authorities have said educating as many people as possible about the signs of dementia will ensure councils are kept informed about who needs extra help.

The President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, John Dixon, said the new national strategy’s emphasis on early diagnosis, improved help and support for carers and improved services was a timely wake-up call to social services departments and their health partners. “It’s time to begin ratcheting dementia much higher up our list of priorities. It has been a Cinderella area of our care for older people for far too long,” he said.

He acknowledged that the extra investment promised by the government was not enough to transform services overnight but said that in the current financial climate the 150 million pounds over two years could be a significant pump-priming investment. He also stressed the importance of aligning the new personalisation agenda within social care to that within the NHS and he reconfirmed the importance of ensuring that as people’s awareness of dementia was raised the importance of early symptoms was not downplayed or dismissed as part of the natural process of ageing.

For the Local Government Association, David Rogers, the Chair of the its Community Wellbeing Board, said getting the right help to people with dementia depended on spotting problems early. “Councils up and down the country are providing training for frontline staff so they can identify the warning signs. Educating as many people as possible about the symptoms will ensure councils are kept informed about who needs extra help at home, and older people are not left to cope with a confusing and upsetting condition alone,” he said.