Today, John’s Campaign is celebrating that all acute trusts in England have voluntarily signed up to the Campaign. In this blog, we celebrate what this means for people with dementia and their carers during a hospital stay.
Admission to hospital can be an anxiety provoking experience for anyone. For someone with dementia it can be particularly frightening: surrounded by strange noises, smells, people, equipment and routines. It can be disorientating, disruptive and scary.
Around 850,000 people are estimated to have dementia in the UK, and that figure is expected to rise to 1 million by 2025.
Rising prevalence has led to a number of new initiatives focussing on the condition. In 2015, the Prime Minister’s Challenge on dementia 2020 set out more than 50 commitments with the hope of making England a world leader in dementia care, research and awareness by 2020.
Efforts like this are starting to reap rewards, and there have been recent improvements in the rates of diagnosis and new funds being developed to research the condition.
However, despite these positive steps, we know people with dementia and their carers still find it hard to get good quality care and support or to lead as active a life in the community as they could.
With this in mind, Age UK started looking at what ‘living well’ meant to people with dementia and their carers, and from there we branched out to find an array of services and approaches that could help them achieve this. Our findings are published in a new report, ‘Promising Approaches to Living Well with Dementia.’
There’s no doubt that a familiar face, like that of a loved one and carer, can really put a person with dementia at ease during a hospital stay. The benefit to patient, family and staff is immeasurable; vital not only to settle the person, but to aid communication and prepare them for diagnostics or treatment, thereby helping professionals carry out their jobs. The carer may also be able to provide vital information and background, or support and stimulate a restless patient as opposed to leaving them confused and bed bound.
John’s Campaign, founded in 2014 by Nicci Gerrard and Julia Jones, calls for an end to restrictive visiting hours in hospitals to enable more people with dementia to benefit from the support of a carer when they need it.
With the Care Bill running through parliament, the development of historic reform of the funding system for social care and much political focus on the integration with the health system, one could be forgiven for thinking that the Gordian Knot that is health and social care integration is close to being severed.
Challenges to health and social care integration
There are a number of reasons why there is still a long way to go before it can be claimed that social care has been fundamentally and sustainably reformed:
The challenges associated with funding reform;
A lack of a concrete and proven plan to integrate health and social care with a focus on the individual;
Structural issues relating to the fact that health is free at the point of use and social care is not.
However, at Alzheimer’s Research UK we are concerned that the issue of dementia and particularly research into finding effective treatments is being missed in the debate around health and social care. Of course we have the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia, and this has been responsible for a huge step forward in fighting dementia, but we know this alone isn’t enough. A focused and coordinated effort to create a step change in the way we tackle a particular issue is one thing, but in order to create a sustainable and ambitious legacy it is crucial to build solutions, learnt from this initiative and others, into the fabric of the health and care services. Doing so will continue to improve the lives of people with dementia long beyond any single initiative. The current agenda around social care presents us with one such opportunity. Continue reading “Guest blog – Why is dementia research the elephant in the room?”
The most debilitating symptoms of dementia affect a person’s ability to carry out daily activities, yet are also some of the most difficult to treat with medication.
As the health and social care burden of dementia increases, so does interest in alternatives to medication. However, the widespread take up of alternative treatments must be grounded in robust analysis both of health outcomes and of cost-effectiveness.
An off the shelf product claiming to improve memory in early Alzheimer’s disease seems to offer both hope and convenience. However, some of these, including Souvenaid, are governed by the food rather than the drugs industry and, as such, regulated differently.