My Nana Crouch is in a care home with dementia and when I last visited her over 2 years ago I frightened her so much that I have not been back. One of my activists has a wife with dementia in a local care home and one of my friends has a mother with dementia and is the only remaining immediate relative looking after her. It is also an issue that I have raised with the Chief Executive and Chairman of the local hospital. Dementia is a growing cause for concern and most people know someone directly or indirectly with dementia.
So I was saddened today to read that the National Audit Office has published a report criticising the Government for not delivering on its promise to prioritise dementia services despite the condition costing more than heart disease, stroke and cancer combined.
One of the consequences of not prioritising dementia in the NHS Operational Framework is that Trusts end up focusing on other issues leaving frontline staff lacking proper training or information about how to deal with dementia patients. Some of the stories I have heard about how hospitals, including local hospitals, have dealt with dementia patients leave me feeling very sad and angry, especially as it is often a tiny alteration in behaviour that could have made the difference between good and bad/insensitive treatment. In my view Janet Davies, executive director of nursing and service delivery at the RCN hits the nail on the head. She said: ‘Training and education for healthcare staff working in all settings is vital if meaningful improvements for dementia patients are to be made. Greater investment is also needed for specialist dementia nurses, who provide support for dementia patients, their carers and families.’
The ambition of the Government’s strategy was right but it is outrageous that it has not become anything more than warm words. With millions of families battling daily with this devastating condition, delivery now has to be the most important part of the strategy.