Charities and politicians unite to make Manchester ‘best in world’ for dementia care

Alzheimer’s Society has outlined details of a partnership with local health authorities that will ‘transform’ the quality of care for sufferers of the illness in Manchester.   

The charity’s Fix Dementia Care campaign has teamed up with Dementia United, an initiative created in line with devolution plans for Greater Manchester, as a response to unsettling figures uncovered over the last two years.

The Fix Dementia Care report contained shocking evidence obtained by Freedom of Information requests submitted to hospital trusts across the UK, which indicate severe shortcomings in the care for sufferers of the various forms of dementia in hospitals across the UK.

In the information obtained, it was found that in the worst performing hospitals, 71% of people who suffered a fall had dementia, and in 68 UK hospital trusts, almost 5000 patients with dementia were discharged between the hours of 11pm and 6am.

Perhaps even more alarmingly, a 2015 UK-wide poll of 570 carers, family and friends of people with dementia found that just 2% believed hospital staff understood their needs and over half (57%) felt people with dementia were not treated with understanding and dignity in hospital.

Alzheimer’s Society said the findings illustrated an ‘unacceptable variation’ in the quality of hospital care across England.

Julia Kouyoumdjian, the North-West’s Media Office for Alzheimer’s Society, told MM: “This is a new partnership with Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Devolution Team that was launched last November.

“Its purpose is to see dementia recognised as a devolution priority for Great Manchester and to transform the care people living with dementia and their carers receive.”

The deficiencies in the current system come at significant cost to the public. Research conducted in 2013/14 found that an estimated £264million had been wasted on poor dementia care. Falls and emergency readmissions alone topped £100million.

In total, dementia care comes at a cost of £26billion to the UK economy each year, the equivalent of £30,000 per person suffering from the illness, but Kouyoumjian is confident the future is much brighter.

“New decision making and spending powers are being given to Greater Manchester from April 2016,” she said.

“Dementia United is a five year transformation programme which aims to make Greater Manchester the best place in the world for dementia care.

“It will improve the lived experience for people with dementia and reduce dependence on the health and social care system by working with people from all parts of the community, those living with dementia and their carers, along with other specialist knowledge and expertise, from every corner of Greater Manchester.”

There are an estimated 29,000 people living with dementia in the Greater Manchester area, and the number of people with dementia in the UK is set to reach one million in the next five years, meaning the strain on care services is greater than ever.

The issue has struck a chord with MP for Oldham East & Saddleworth Debbie Abrahams, who provided respite care for her mother Angela, who suffered with Alzheimer’s until her death at the age of 74 in 2012.

Abrahams – also the Shadow Minister for Disabled People – has said that creating ‘a dementia friendly Oldham is one of [her] top local priorities’.

Speaking at the launch of the Fix Dementia Care campaign last week, she said: “Good hospital care for people with dementia should never be a throw of the dice, yet in some hospitals people are routinely experiencing consequences of poor care.

“That’s why I’m backing Alzheimer’s Society’s campaign to end the postcode lottery on the quality of hospital care people with dementia face.

“The first step to improving the issue is greater transparency. Once we know where the shortcomings are we can take steps to tackle them.”

With this in mind, an e-petition addressed to NHS CEO Simon Stevens can be found on the Alzheimer’s Society’s website, appealing for the publication of an annual ‘dementia statement’ by all hospitals.

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