“Dementia Atlas” Reveals Patchy Care Across the Nation

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The government have published a dementia atlas that reveals a patchy pattern of care for the condition across regions in England.

In terms of offering regular support and reviews, some areas on the map seem to be meeting the national standards. But according to Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary, other areas are falling short.

Mr Hunt said that tackling dementia is an important priority and this new atlas should promote improvements.

Charities dubbed the level of care a “postcode lottery” and said it was unacceptable.

Five care themes are mapped and benchmarked on the atlas: diagnosis, living with dementia, support, end of life care and prevention.

For instance, every individual who lives with dementia should be having annual check-ups to review their requirements. In some parts of England, for example North East Lincolnshire and Aylesbury, about 85 percent of patients get face-to-face meetings, but the figure is much lower in other areas. For instance, in Somerset, only 50 percent receive these meetings.

According to dementia charities, some of the differences could be explained by regional variation in age and population, but not all of them. Spokesperson for the Alzheimer’s Society, George McNamara, said that the variation causes must be investigated to make sure dementia care is never a gamble.

Age UK’s Caroline Adams said that the charity knows help in some areas is very good, but elsewhere, services are not up to standard and only a few people receive at least a yearly review of their care after diagnosis. She added that efforts must be continued to improve access to and quality of care for the growing number of people living with dementia.

Currently, there are 676,000 people living with dementia in England, a figure that is set to rise.

Mr Hunt believes that by publishing the current care levels, a spotlight is being shone on parts of England where work still needs to be carried out, whilst also highlighting where we can learn from good practice.

The atlas also reveals which parts of England are dementia-friendly communities. This means they have made changes to help life feel a little easier for those living with dementia, as well as those caring for them. For example, training shopkeepers in local areas in the appropriate ways to interact with customers who live with dementia.

Dementia-friendly areas much of Yorkshire and the West Midlands, many other regions to the north and south of these places.

Actress Carey Mulligan has been appointed by the Alzheimer’s Society as the first UK Global Dementia Ambassador. This new position will allow her to draw attention to the importance of creating dementia-friendly communities in England. Mulligan’s own grandmother Margaret received an Alzheimer’s disease diagnosis in 2004.

The actress said she has first-hand experience of how devastating dementia can be. She said that everyone is affected differently, so it’s important to treat the condition with dignity and respect and the initial step is to educate people and break down the stigma surrounding dementia.