My very first post on this blog was about dementia – in February 2010 I wrote”Lest We Forget” which spoke about the vast scale of this disease both worldwide and in the UK. The comments related to a report published by Oxford University which highlighted the fact that two thirds of the suffers in Britain, 400,000 people were left untreated by the NHS.
For this and all my other posts on dementia ‘click’ on “dementia” in the Topics list.
Well it appears we did forget, because the Department of Health has just completed another survey which tells us the same thing ! They seemed surprised to find that only a third of adults aged over fourty understood the signs of dementia. What they did confirm was that only 250,000 patients are registered with a diagnosis of dementia by GP’s, even though there are thought to be 634,000 suffers in the UK. This is hardly news, but perhaps it is a sign that the DOH is accepting that the situation cannot be hidden away and ignored for much longer.
What are the issues behind this ? :-
- Firstly, there is still no clear test to diagnose dementia .
- Secondly, until relatively recently GP’s were denied access to drugs to treat early stage dementia by the N.I.C.E. guidelines .
- Thirdly, a confirmed diagnosis leaves most suffers and their carers with no community support and only the prospect of living out their life in poor quality residental care .
- Finally, faced with the above, it is no wonder that suffers and their carers do not seek early treatment, and it is quite understandable that GP’s do not rush to pass on bad news about such a daunting future.
A £2 million television advertising campaign is about to be launched to raise awareness of the early signs of dementia. This is good news but it needs to be accompanied by more action by the DOH :-
- To improve the standards of Residential Care by increasing staff training and increase fee levels .
- To encourage more innovative forms of support for the majority suffers and their carers who still live in the community.
The never-miss-an-opportunity-for-a-headline, or to state the obvious, —- Care Services Minister — Paul Burstow, said “Being diagnosed with dementia won’t make the condition worse but leaving it untreated will. We can’t cure dementia, but we can keep the person we love for longer”
Yes Mr Burstow, but what future are you holding out for them ?
Action not words, Mr. Burstow.