Prime Minister’s dementia pledge echoes Council recommendations
28 March 2012
The Prime Minister has pledged to deliver major improvements in dementia care and research by 2015, echoing recommendations made by the Nuffield Council’s 2009 report Dementia: ethical issues.
In a document entitled Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia, David Cameron noted that “dementia is one of the biggest challenges we face today – and it is one that we as a society simply cannot afford to ignore any longer.” It recognises the progress made following the implementation of England’s first National Dementia Strategy, but aims to “push further and faster to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia, their families and carers.”
Image provided by the Dementia Services Development Centre, and taken by Tony Marsh
The Challenge document focuses on three key areas for progress to be made: driving improvements in health and care; creating dementia friendly communities that understand how to help; and better research. These general aims were all identified by the Nuffield Council’s 2009 report Dementia: ethical issues, and in particular, the Challenge’s recommendations on research closely match those of the Council.
For example, the Challenge document pledges £13 million for funding social science research on dementia via the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The Nuffield Council’s recommendations supported such a pledge, noting that “funding bodies such as the ESRC, in partnership with others, [should] take active steps to encourage further research into issues such as how people live with dementia, the nature of their experience and the quality of their lives; how stigma can best be challenged; and how those working in health and social care can best be supported in providing care which genuinely respects the personhood of everyone with dementia.”
Moreover, where people with dementia wish to take part in research, the Challenge document observes that “people with dementia and their carers are not routinely offered the opportunity to participate in high-quality research and there is no nationally consistent system to enable them to do so, should they wish.” The Nuffield Council similarly recommended that action should be taken to make it easier to allow those who have expressed a wish to take part in research to do so.
The Challenge also makes recommendations on the further development of ‘dementia-friendly communities’, recognising that – for people with dementia – everyday tasks such as going to the shops, and getting money from the bank are made difficult due to the limited understanding of dementia in their communities. The need for such everyday services to adapt to the needs of people with dementia was an aim which was also highlighted in the Nuffield Council’s report; the Council recommended that the Equality and Human Rights Commission should take action to publicise how service-providers must ensure equal access to their services by people with dementia under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.
The aims set out in the Challenge document will now be taken forward by three ‘champion’ groups in each of its three key areas of focus. Progress on the aims will be reported to the Prime Minister in September 2012.
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