The Alzheimer’s Society does important work with people living with dementia, including the development of 152 dementia-friendly communities reaching an estimated 18 million people. I am pleased that I have become a Dementia Friend and my office staff have been trained to support constituents with dementia and their families.
The previous Labour government launched the first ever national dementia strategy, appointed the first national clinical directors for dementia, and commissioned the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) to develop the quality standard for dementia. Together, those began the process of establishing memory clinics, providing better training for GPs and improving the quality of dementia care for people in hospital.
As we work to find a cure for dementia, we should place an equal emphasis on the care provided to people living with disease and the support provided to their families and carers. The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services reports that £4.6 billion has been cut from adult social care budgets since 2010. The Health Foundation has also claimed that that six years of real-terms reductions in social care budgets have left 400,000 fewer people receiving essential help.
This is reflected in the fact that government underfunding of the NHS has led to the Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group cutting funding to a number of services run by the Alzheimer’s Society.
Improving the quality of social care is a vital part of providing dignity in older age and independence and support for people living with a long-term condition.
At the General Election in June I stood on a manifesto that promised an extra £8 billion to tackle the immediate financial gap in social care. This would be enough to ensure care staff are paid the National Living Wage and extend publicly funded social care to 36,000 people with the highest needs. The manifesto also pledged to increase Carers Allowance in line with Job Seekers Allowance and to provide free end of life care.
I will continue to press the government to do more to support people living with dementia.