Dementia is a growing issue in the UK and we are facing a care crisis. According to Alzheimer’s Research UK, there are approximately 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK and 24.6 million people know a family member or close friend who is living with dementia.
It is not surprising, therefore, that communities get behind dementia campaigns such as the fantastic Dementia Friends project and the Dementia Action Alliance, aimed at raising awareness about dementia and creating dementia friendly communities.
There is a strong sense that dementia is one of those situations where everybody very much feels that “we are in this together”. There is, however, still a lot of work to be done if we are going to prevent a care crisis for people living with dementia.
The government made a commitment to making England the most dementia friendly country by 2020. However, according to Age UK, there are still not enough good local support services for people living with Dementia.
In the West Midlands, there are estimated to be 73,406 people living with dementia. Figures collected by GPs show that in Telford & Wrekin, there are 1,130 people over 65 who have been diagnosed with some form of dementia. But estimates by the NHS, based on the age profile and gender of patients, suggest that the real figure may be 1,780.
In Shropshire there are 3,468 people over 65 who have been diagnosed with some form of dementia but based on the age profile and gender of patients, the NHS says the real figure could be closer to 4,915.
Every day, there are still opportunities being missed in the care and support of people living with dementia.
In England, every individual who is diagnosed with dementia is entitled to a personalised care plan and a care plan review at least once a year.
The care plan review process is the gateway to responding to any changes in the individual’s condition, identifying any follow up treatment that is required and signposting to other vital support service.
More than a third of people living with dementia do not have an appropriate care plan or review process in place. This means that people living with dementia are missing out on important care and support and are becoming more vulnerable.
If you know of a family member or close friend living with dementia, making sure that a suitable care plan and review process is in place, could make a real difference in helping them live well with dementia in the community.
If you know of a family member or close friend who is living with dementia, you may also wish to consider whether it is possible for them to prepare Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA). Lasting Powers of Attorney are documents by which an individual can nominate a person or persons to make decisions for them if they ever become unable to make such decisions personally.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney, which can be set up to cover both –Property and Finance and Health and Welfare decisions. The person must have capacity when they make the Lasting Power of Attorney and a diagnosis of dementia does not necessarily mean that the person does not have capacity.
With Lasting Powers of Attorney in place, you could be better placed to assist with the management of the person’s financial affairs and putting in place a suitable care plan on their behalf.