Does the UK government need to do more for those struggling with dementia?

  • Post last modified:May 30, 2024
  • Reading time:4 mins read

Dementia affects almost a million people across the UK and that figure is only going to increase as people live to an older age, providing more time for the degenerative condition to kick in.

It’s something that is going to be needed to be addressed, whether that be the introduction of more dementia nursing homes, better awareness of how people can care for loved ones at home, or simply more investment into research to prevent and control the condition.

Of course, it is more complex than that, so we take a look at what is currently being done, the state of play and how the condition can be treated moving forward.

Current Government Initiatives

Over the years, the UK government has tried to implement a number of strategies to improve dementia care, most notably the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia 2020. This set out ambitious goals to enhance diagnosis rates, increase public awareness, and improve the quality of care. 

What’s more, more funding is being allocated to dementia research, with the government having committed to doubling funding to £160 million per year for dementia research by 2025. However, with that coming to an end soon, and there likely to be a new government in place, many charities are pleading with MPs to listen to people being affected by dementia and commit to more.

Gaps in Support and Care

That’s largely because while initiatives have been in place, there are still significant gaps in support and care for people. While private residences for people with dementia continue to play a huge part in care for those living with the condition, the quality of care outside of that varies from region to region, with access to specialist dementia care inconsistent. 

The shortage of trained healthcare professionals within the NHS is a big part of that, a situation that’s common not just with dementia, but many other areas of the service too.

That lack of resources within social care is making it more difficult for people to find in-home support, respite care, and community-based services. Many families find themselves bearing the financial and emotional burden of caring for a loved one with dementia, often without adequate support.

The Need for Increased Funding

As a result, there is a need for increased funding to address such shortfalls, with Dementia Action Week recently highlighting both the need for more money for social care, as well as investment into dementia-specific services.

The training of specialist staff, better community support networks and further investment into research is becoming more and more crucial. 

Supporting Carers

Carers play an indispensable role in the lives of people with dementia, yet they often feel overlooked and undervalued. The government needs to provide better support for carers through financial assistance, respite care, and training. Carers’ allowances and benefits should be reviewed to ensure they reflect the significant time and effort dedicated to caring for someone with dementia.

Respite care is another critical area that requires attention. Carers need regular breaks to maintain their own health and well-being, but respite services are often limited or difficult to access. By improving the availability and quality of respite care, the government can help prevent caregiver burnout and ensure sustained support for people with dementia.

Raising Awareness and Reducing Stigma

Public awareness and understanding of dementia have improved, but there is still work to be done to reduce stigma and promote a dementia-friendly society. The government can play a key role in driving awareness campaigns, encouraging community initiatives, and supporting businesses and public services to become more dementia-friendly.

Of course, that’s not going to change overnight, but as we get ever closer towards and election, the topic of dementia in the UK should start to become more prominent as more of the population becomes at risk from what can be a really difficult condition to live with.

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