Dementia is not a life sentence: just a way of living life in a different way - ADSS/LGA

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services
Local Government Association
Date: 16 September, 2008
Embargo: 00.01hrs Wednesday 17 September 2008

That was the message sent back to the government today by Directors of Adult Social Services and the Local Government Association in response to a recent consultation on transforming the quality of dementia care.

The joint response explains it is vitally important to ensure, when raising people's awareness of dementia, that early symptoms are not downplayed or dismissed as being part of the natural process of ageing.

John Beer, ADASS Honorary Secretary, said:

"Recognition of the need for better quality care for people with dementia, whether in hospital or the community, is long overdue. People with dementia and their carers should be entitled to timely diagnosis and excellent quality services, just as they would be if they had cancer or heart disease."

The Associations, however, do not gloss over 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.

"While some of this money can be found by reducing admissions to residential care, these figures do not take full account of the additional staffing required to deliver this strategy. Nor do they recognise that for some areas which have a disproportionately high number of older people, the financial burden on individual local authorities may be significantly higher. Additional financial support will inevitably be required from central Government."

However, ADASS and the LGA point out that "there are likely to be some savings to public funds from early intervention and prevention which could be fed back into services locally".

Other points raised by the LGA/ADASS response include:

* Recruiting, retaining and training high quality staff is vital to the success of this strategy. They should receive appropriate recognition for their contribution.

* Improved home care services are essential and will need to be available for people with low level needs as well as those in the later stages of dementia.

* The strategy should include specific reference to the needs of younger people with dementia. Developing dementia at an earlier age when a person may have dependent children, a job and financial commitments has wide reaching implications; getting an accurate diagnosis can take a very long time and once diagnosed "there may be difficulties accessing dementia services that are often age specific and may not be equipped to meet the needs of younger people."

* The new personalisation agenda within social care needs to be aligned to that within the NHS. LGA/ADASS say that "such an approach will ensure the most efficient use of resources whilst at the same time offering a truly seamless service to people with dementia at whatever stage of the condition." Elsewhere the ADASS/LGA response stresses the urgent need "to implement the personalisation agenda in the health service."

* The strategy should strengthen references to the role of housing and extra care housing, Telecare and Telehealth, as important factors in enabling people to remain at home.

Both Associations stress that transforming social care alone is not sufficient. "Health care systems must also be radically changed to ensure that they offer real choice and maximum possible control to service users and appropriate support to their carers and/or families We would actively seek to promote alignment between personal budgets in social care and individual budgets for health care to ensure that integrated self-directed care and support is available to all."

ENDS

For further information contact:
John Beer, ADASS Honorary Secretary, 023 8083 2621
Jenny Owen, ADASS Vice President, 01245 434806
Drew Clode, ADASS Policy Press Adviser, 020 8348 5023/0976 837755
Sarah Cordey, LGA Media Officer, 020 7664 3143
Photographs of John Beer and Jenny Owen are available on request