The Budget delivers another cold snap for people with dementia - Alzheimer's Society

Posted On: 
23rd November 2017

Yesterday's Budget saw people with dementia see their need for better care being pushed aside, says Alzheimer's Society.

Credit: 
Alzheimer's Society

. While the Autumn Budget promised additional cash for the NHS, it did not address the ever widening funding gulf facing our care system. Earlier this year, we were encouraged to see the Government promise a long-awaited consultation on care reform, which indicated real recognition of the difficulties people affected by dementia and other long-term conditions face. However, yesterday’s deathening silence on care means people with dementia and their carers will be left without the right support this winter.

With rising numbers of people not getting the care they need – amounting to over a million – and people and their families increasingly having to prop up the system, it has become undeniable that we are dealing with a system-wide collapse. We see the Government’s promise of a consultation on reform as a signal of a growing understanding that people living with dementia, carers and loved ones cannot go on as they have been. But people are struggling in the here and now, and cannot wait any longer. While it is absolutely imperative we have the conversation about overhauling our care system to protect people in the future, we also need to guarantee the system stays afloat while we wait for a better and fairer deal that could take years to implement.

People with dementia are currently spending hundreds of thousands on their care, and on the whole have to spend more than people with other conditions due to the complexity of their support needs. However, the fact they are spending so much is not guaranteeing them quality care or support designed to meet their needs. This is because increasingly local authorities are unable to provide people with the care they need and the care home market is struggling to stay afloat because of lack of money in the system. This is getting worse, with a recent Family and Childcare Trust survey highlighting that this year only a quarter of local authorities have enough care for everyone who needs it.

Following months of silence on care reform, the Government finally gave the public more insight about when discussions will take place on what the English care system should look like going forward. We are hopeful that this will bring about credible change in how people pay for care and lead to better access, as well as quality in the future. But this is not enough. People are in dire need of support now; being stuck in hospital due to no beds being available in the community, using what little savings they have to ensure they aren’t evicted from their care homes and increasingly relying on carers, who are already saving the Government billions. With over a quarter of people saying care is worse now than it was five years ago, it is clear that more funding is needed for social care and that people cannot afford to wait any longer.

The cost of inaction on the Government’s part will be more people being stuck in hospital this winter due to a lack of social care. While increased NHS funding will help somewhat, without addressing the lack of care and support in the community for people with dementia, the NHS will continue to be under pressure and families this winter will be forced to spend thousands on getting the care they need for their loved one to be looked after over Christmas. This must stop now.