We need to fix the broken care system
Debbie Abrahams MP urges the Government to include a Dementia Fund in the forthcoming Spending Review to end the unfairness facing people with dementia.
Today I will be leading a Westminster Hall Debate on ‘Improving the lives of people with dementia’. This is a subject that is very close to my heart, and over the years I have done my best to raise the issues affecting people living with dementia here in Parliament and in the community, including as co-chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia.
There are many ways to improve lives of people with dementia. It is well known that there is a social care crisis in this country, which is a dementia crisis. We need to fix the broken care system, and I am proud to support Alzheimer’s Society’s Fix Dementia Care Campaign and their call for a Dementia Fund.
In May I tabled an EDM in support of the campaign, calling for a financial injection into the social care system in the short-to-medium term, allowing for greater provision of safe and quality care, longer visits and savings to the NHS. My EDM now has backing from almost 100 MPs of all parties, and I know thousands of Alzheimer’s Society campaigners have written to their own MPs as well. I urge the Government to look at the proposal and include a Dementia Fund in the forthcoming Spending Review to end the unfairness facing people with dementia.
More investment into research is another priority. We urgently need to focus our efforts on prevention, searching for new treatments and investing in dementia research which can improve the lives of people affected by dementia today, and reduce the risk of dementia for future populations. Dementia currently costs the UK £26bn a year and I believe that at least 1% of that cost should be spent on research.
Recognising the disability rights of people with dementia is critical too. Last week, the APPG on Dementia launched a report which looks into dementia and disability. Dementia is a disability, according to the Equality Act 2010 and the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. However, the APPG was told that society is lagging behind in this understanding and failing to uphold the disability rights of people with dementia.
Shockingly, 98% of the 2,500+ survey respondents thought that people living with dementia are treated differently to people with other health conditions or disabilities. They believe that this is due to the ‘hidden’ nature of dementia, and the stigma surrounding the condition. This is simply not good enough, and we need to do more.
A central finding of this report is that the public, employers, organisations, governments and public bodies need to be more aware of, and recognise, the rights of people with dementia. Action needs to be taken across a number of key areas – from employment to housing, transport to social protection- to ensure that people with dementia receive the protections and safeguards that legislation and convention provides.
Over the coming months, the APPG on Dementia will be working with Alzheimer’s Society and other partners to turn this report’s recommendations into reality. We hope this can make a real and lasting difference to the lives of people living with dementia, and their carers.
Debbie Abrahams is Labour MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth.