Last week we were greeted with the startling fact that one in eight people are now caring for someone with dementia and a staggering 50,000 Britons have quit their jobs to care for relatives with dementia. The research by Public Health England has caused a pretty big stir and that’s all good news in my book.
First of all, Westminster appears to have sat up and started to take note if Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt’s stark warning is a key indicator. In response to the PHE findings, Mr Hunt said the ‘fabric of society’ is under attack from the condition with too many carers being forced out of work prematurely as employers and local communities offer little support.
Strong words from the Health Secretary – perhaps he needs to take a closer look at some of the developments being undertaken in the care industry such as specialised dementia units being set up by the private sector such as ourselves and the emergence of private day care facilities to support carers in the local community. Lack of central funding means private providers are stepping in here to support local communities when the local authority budgets can’t cope.
Although some of the Health Minister’s rhetoric is slightly misguided, in my view, the sentiment of his words are spot on. We all need to face up to the issue of dementia and its growing impact on society. The days of burying our heads in the sand are over – this is a growing dilemma that we will all face to one degree or another, either personally or through a loved one. The more people who realise this and start to do something about it, the better. And that’s one reason why last week’s launch of the high profile ‘dementia friends’ campaign, endorsed by some of the UK’s leading musicians, authors, actors and actresses, is such great timing.
The Alzheimers’ Society initiative aims to raise awareness and empathy for the condition by encouraging individuals to find out more by becoming a dementia friend themselves.
This is a great initiative and I would encourage everyone to at least find out more about the campaign. But if that is a step too far for you at this stage, please take a few moments to read a set of cartoons which has been reproduced by the Daily Mail. It is cartoonist Tony Husband’s account of his father, his diagnosis of dementia and how his condition changed over a period of time. It’s a fascinating insight and accurately reflects the condition in a way which we can all appreciate and absorb. I hope you find this insightful and useful at the same time.
Care and Operations Director