National Dementia Strategy a 'timely wake-up call'

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services
Date: Tuesday February 3, 2009
Embargo: Immediate

Today's launch of the National Dementia Strategy (NDS) is laying the basis for substantial and significant changes in our attitudes to people with dementia and to the way we improve the quality of their care, according to the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services.


ADASS President John Dixon said that the reports emphasis on early diagnosis, improved help and support to carers, and improved services was a `timely wake-up call for adult social services departments and their health partners. Its 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 went on to acknowledge that the additional investment promised by the government was not sufficient to transform these services overnight. We know there is always a need for more cash for dementia services. But in the current financial climate the £150 million spread over two years could prove to be a significant pump-priming investment, helping us develop the £17 billion already spent on dementia across health and social care.


Some of those developments, if the interventions are early enough, could well lead to savings which can then be fed back into local services.


Mr Dixon also stressed the importance of aligning the new personalisation agenda within social care to that within the NHS. In this context he welcomed again the pilots being set up as a result of the Darzi review of the NHS in which patients would be allocated their own budgets for treating certain conditions.


He went on to reconfirm the importance of ensuring, when raising people's awareness of dementia, that early symptoms are not downplayed or dismissed as being part of the natural process of ageing. As we said when we welcomed the NDSs interim report, dementia should never be seen as a life sentence: it is, certainly in its earlier stages, just a way of living a life in a different way.


The Association welcomed, too, the reports emphasis on the recruitment, retention and training of high quality staff , and its recognition of the needs of younger people with dementia - particularly those who may have dependent children, a job and financial commitments. He said that 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.




For further information contact:

John Dixon, ADASS President, 01243 777660

Jenny Owen*, ADASS Vice President, 01245 434806

Drew Clode, ADASS Policy/Press Adviser, 020 8348 5023/07976 837755



* Ms Owen is Co-chair of the National Dementia Strategy

Pictures of John Dixon and Jenny Owen available on request.




`Personalisation' is a term used to describe a number of ways in which vulnerable adults and their carers can receive a mixture of local authority and government money in order to pay directly for the care services they need without direct social services involvement. They will be helped in making an assessment of their needs and finances by social workers who will also involve and consider the needs and availability of informal carers. Any contractual agreement is therefore between the individual and the care

worker or operator.


Both the government and the Commission for Social Care Inspection have urged local authorities to prioritise the roll-out of individual budgets. A National Director for Social Care Transformation was appointed in September 2008 to contribute to the development of personalised services.




The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) represents directors of adult social services in local authorities in England and Northern Ireland. DASSs have statutory responsibilities for the social care of older people and adults with disabilities, while over 50 per cent also run social housing departments. ADASS members might also share a number of responsibilities for the provision and/or commissioning of leisure, library, culture and arts services within their councils.