Earlier this week the Prime Minister set out a welcome new, long-term strategy for tackling dementia.
I experienced what this terrible condition is like first-hand when in my 20s my dad started to suffer from dementia. Watching him being taken away from us, piece by piece, was the toughest thing I’ve ever been through. I’ll be forever grateful to the NHS, and local charities like Croydon Crossroads and the Alzheimer’s Society, for their support. That’s why I’m delighted as part of his strategy, David Cameron has pledged that more than half-a-million carers of people with dementia will be offered respite and emotional and psychological support to ensure they can have a life alongside looking after their loved ones.
From April, the Government will legally require councils to assess and support carers in their area amid concern that people looking after dementia sufferers do not have adequate support.
The diagnosis rates have increased from 42% to 59% in the past three years but there are thousands of people who are still waiting up to six months for a full assessment to take place. That’s why another element of the strategy is ensuring that initial dementia assessments will take place within six weeks.
An estimated 1.3 million NHS workers will be required to undergo dementia training so they know how to give pensioners exhibiting signs of the disease the best-possible care from the earliest possible moment.
The Government has promised to invest more than £300 million into UK research and medical innovation, and establish an international dementia institute within five years in a bid to make the UK a world leader for research on dementia and medical trials.
I agree with the Prime Minister that dementia is one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime. He has publicly stated that he wants dementia cured by 2025 – this week’s announcement is a huge step in the right direction to achieve that ambition.