The need for the government to prioritise dementia care has never been more pressing. And while last Thursday’s autumn statement brought some welcome news, there is still a long way to go.
Thursday (24 November) marks Carers’ Rights Day, when the focus will be on the cost of caring. Right now, the families and friends of people living with dementia in the UK are providing care for their loved ones valued at £13.9 bn a year, a figure that’s projected to rise to £35.7bn by 2040.
In Newcastle alone, this army of unpaid carers are estimated to provide care worth £53.9 mn. As the cost-of-living crisis bites, it’s little wonder so many of these devoted carers feel uncertain about the future.
We were disappointed that government has delayed the proposed £86,000 care cap for two years as this was a first step towards tackling crippling care costs.
We recognise the political upheaval of recent months has caused delays, not least in the delivery of the new ten-year plan for dementia in England, but further delays must be avoided.
Additional care packages but still pressures
There was some encouraging news announced by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt. Social Care will receive £1bn in additional funding next year, and £1.7bn the year after. The government claims this will lead to an estimated 200,000 additional care packages over next two years.
This is a step in the right direction, but with pressures on all carers being intensified by the record 165,000 vacancies in social care across the UK – including 7,500 in the North East – the system is in urgent need of reform.
It’s also a huge concern that diagnosis rates are at a five-year low, meaning tens of thousands are living without crucial treatment and vital support.
How can you help?
I would urge your readers across the North East to sign Alzheimer’s Society’s open letter to the Prime Minister asking the government to prioritise dementia by visiting alzheimers.org.uk/openletter
Sir Tony Robinson
Actor, Writer, TV Presenter and Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador