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‘Left adrift’ - charity calls for more government support for dementia patients

PUBLISHED: 00:01 02 July 2014

Prime Minister David Cameron speaking at the first Global Dementia Legacy Event, at the Guildhall in central London.

Prime Minister David Cameron speaking at the first Global Dementia Legacy Event, at the Guildhall in central London.

The government has been urged to address the lack of support for dementia patients after it emerged that a fifth of people diagnosed were given no information about the condition.

How dementia diagnosis rates vary

Great Yarmouth and Waveney – 3,844 people with dementia with a diagnosis rate of 49.61pc.

North Norfolk – 3,588 people with dementia with a diagnosis rate of 42.97pc.

Norwich – 2,661 people with dementia with a 41pc diagnosis rate.

South Norfolk – 3,419 people with dementia with a 44.36pc diagnosis rate.

West Norfolk – 2,889 people with dementia, with a diagnosis rate of 35.3pc.

West Suffolk – 3,370 people with dementia, with a 42.49pc diagnosis rate.

Dementia has been described as a “ticking timebomb” with more people set to be told they have the incurable disease as the country’s population gets older.

However, in a charity poll, 90pc of almost 400 people with the condition, carers, friends and family said they were dissatisfied with the amount of information and support provided and felt left “adrift”.

The Alzheimer’s Society is today launching a new campaign, Right to Know, to ensure people with dementia get a diagnosis and, following that, access to vital information, support and available treatments.

A survey conducted by the charity revealed that 97pc of respondents agreed that the government should do more to support people who have a dementia diagnosis.

Of the almost 79,000 people in East Anglia living with dementia, less than half (44pc) currently have a formal diagnosis.

Erika Aldridge, Alzheimer’s Society regional operations manager for East of England, said there had been a small improvement in diagnosis rates. However, there were still “unacceptable” variations across the region.

She said: “Like entering a maze blindfolded, too many people with dementia are left without a guiding hand to help them come to terms with this debilitating, terminal condition. The government has shown clear commitment to improving the lives of people with dementia and action is underway to improve diagnosis rates. However, we cannot escape the lack of support following a diagnosis which leaves vulnerable people adrift. People living with dementia tell us that with the right support they can live well and Alzheimer’s Society is here to support them, but a bold commitment is also needed to reach all those in need.”

As well as improving post-diagnosis support provision, the charity is calling for:

• A 66pc dementia diagnosis rate across all areas – with a commitment to reach 75pc by 2017.

• No one to wait longer than 12 weeks from seeing their GP to diagnosis.

• A guarantee that everyone has access to a dementia adviser or equivalent following a diagnosis.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “We’ve made dementia a national priority as never before, and in December hosted a summit of world leaders on tackling this horrific disease.

“We want the NHS to make sure people with dementia get support tailored to their needs, and as part of this we have ambitious plans to increase diagnosis rates. We are introducing named, accountable GPs for over-75s, who will have overall responsibility for their care, and have doubled funding for dementia research in playing our part to help people with dementia live well with the condition.”

Click here to see the EDP’s eight page Making Sense of Dementia supplement with information on support groups and how to become a Dementia Friend.

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