We have just marked national Dementia Action Week and I had the great pleasure of meeting some of the team from Right at Home at the Dementia Café they were running at Heston Pools and Fitness with Lampton Leisure. The team offer support and advice, and organise activities, for people with dementia and their carers, family and friends right across Hounslow. It was inspiring to see how hard the team was working to help sufferers from this heart-breaking condition, and to meet the health and wellness team at Hounslow Council.
Britain faces a dementia crisis with approaching a million people living with the disease and the numbers affected are rising every year. One in 11 people over the age of 65 has dementia in the UK and action on dementia needs to be high on our agenda so that we can make serious progress tackling the disease.
Dementia Action Week, run by Alzheimer’s UK has brought the UK together to call for action on improving action on dementia diagnosis.
Under this Conservative government there is a postcode lottery in dementia diagnosis: too many people are missing out on early identification of the disease, leaving less time for individuals and families to plan and ensure the appropriate support is in place.
Two years ago, the government announced what it grandly called ‘a dedicated dementia strategy’, but after repeated delays and promises of updates ‘in due course’, the plan was quietly dropped in favour of more ‘consultation’. That’s why I tabled a parliamentary question to ask whether it remains government policy to produce a strategy specifically on dementia, and what progress has been made on early diagnosis.
Excellent primary care is also key to unlocking early identification of progressive health conditions like dementia. But this is becoming increasingly unreliable, as it is difficult to see a GP and even more difficult to see the same GP more than once. Over the last decade, we have lost 4500 GPs – there are not enough to care for a growing, ageing population with a high number of health conditions.
Labour will make the future of general practice sustainable by ensuring we train more GPs, take pressure off those currently working in the system, and shift the focus of care out of hospitals and into the community. As well as this, Labour will modernise the way people book appointments to ensure that patients can easily book appointments in the manner they choose, by harnessing the power of the NHS App to end the 8am scramble.
For those who would benefit from seeing the same clinician regularly (for example those living with chronic illness), Labour will improve continuity of care, which is associated with better health outcomes and fewer hospital admissions.
Dementia affects so many families across our community. If you need further support, do begin by attending a dementia café or information session near you.
For more information about dementia, contact adultsocialcare@hounslow.gov.uk.
Seema Malhotra visits Dementia Café
Seema Malhotra visits Dementia Café
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