English businesses lost £3.2bn last year to dementia care crisis

Posted On: 
28th September 2019

Over 112,000 people have left their jobs to care for loved ones with dementia and the costs to businesses of lost workforce is set to soar to £6.3bn/year by 2040, writes the Alzheimer’s Society. 

New research from Alzheimer’s Society today revealed that businesses in England lost £3.2bn last year (1), because people had to quit their job or change their working patterns to care for someone with dementia. Of the 355,000 people of working age caring for a loved one with dementia, more than 147,000 have had to reduce their work hours, or have had difficulty balancing work and caring. Over 112,000 people have had to give up their job, with many retiring early, because of their caring commitments.


The research, conducted by Centre for Economics and Business Research, revealed that the cost of dementia to English businesses has increased by £1.6bn in the last four years and is set to rise to £6.3bn by 2040. 


As dementia progresses, people often need professional support to remain at home, including help with meals, medication and getting washed and dressed.  But repeated cuts to already squeezed local authority budgets has meant it’s impossible for many to get any care at all, let alone the good quality care they need and deserve. 


From the devoted daughter making a 200 mile trip to make sure her mum gets a hot meal, to the person with dementia walking out in the middle of the road because their family can’t afford expensive round the clock care, carers are put in impossible situations, day-in, day-out.


Alzheimer’s Society warned the impact on businesses from inadequate and costly dementia care, adding to the immense personal impact, will only increase if the Government doesn’t fulfil its promise to solve the dementia care crisis. 


Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Up and down the country families are desperately trying and often failing to get the good quality dementia care their loved ones need. Instead, over a hundred thousand people have had no choice but to leave their jobs and try to care for their loved ones themselves. 


“The knock-on cost to businesses is only going to get bigger, with more and more people set to develop dementia, and no solution put in place to sort out social care. It’s devastating for people with dementia, devastating for their families and carers, a drain on the NHS and now we see how badly it’s affecting our economy.”  


 “This can’t go on. The Government must overhaul social care to ensure a minimum standard of care and security for everyone with dementia. It should work like the NHS, schools and other public services, where everyone gets quality care based on their need, not their wallet.”


Yvonne, 43, from Buckinghamshire, who is juggling caring for her mother Joyce, 79 with dementia, and a demanding job, and caring for her 3 and 11 year old children, said: “After my mum was diagnosed I worried about how she was coping at home, and as things got worse, I moved my family from London to Buckinghamshire, so that we could all live together.


“My job is still in the City, so my commute is longer and more challenging than it used to be. Work do allow me to work from home quite a bit, but I do need to be able to drop everything if a client needs me. I work after hours in the evening and at the weekend to catch up on the time I miss during the week when I’ve had to drop things to attend to mum. I feel like I’ve had to put my career on hold as I have no capacity to take on additional responsibility and therefore go for promotions. 


 “Since mum moved in with us, she’s not entitled to free social care anymore, which has a huge effect on finances as we’re now having to contribute towards the cost of her care. Her illness is only going to get worse, and she’s going to need more and more care. If we don’t get support from the government, I don’t know how we’ll be able to afford it. I don’t know what the future holds – mum is very precious to us but the financial situation is really concerning.”


The charity is calling on the Government to end the dementia care crisis for once and for all by putting forward proposals in the Queen’s Speech that result in long-term social care reform. 


 In order to Fix Dementia Care, the Government’s care reforms must recognise three key principles: 


•           Radical action is needed to reduce the cost to individuals while improving the quality and accessibility of dementia care
•           High quality dementia care should be universal – it should be equally available to everyone who develops dementia. We need a system that has more generous eligibility criteria and an entitlement to a minimum level of support for everyone 
•           Reform must recognise the unique injustice in the dementia care system, where people with a health condition, dementia, are charged a ‘dementia tax’ - on average 15% more than standard social care, because of their complex care needs, with many having to sell their homes to pay for care.


Alzheimer’s Society’s Fix Dementia Care campaign is calling on the Government to provide a long-term funding solution to end the social care crisis.