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People with dementia 'collateral damage of austerity' – Alzheimer's Society

Published 26 June 2013

People with dementia are becoming victims of austerity as savage cuts to social care spending leave more people reaching crisis point.

Alzheimer's Society is today (Wednesday 26 June 2013) calling on George Osborne to use the Comprehensive Spending Review to fund greater access to care for tens of thousands of people with the condition. The call comes as polling by YouGov for the charity reveals that 91 per cent of Britons think it is important that the government should invest more in care services for people with dementia who are able to live at home or in a care home rather than a hospital.

According to Alzheimer's Society's report 'Support. Stay. Save', one in 10 (50,000) people with dementia living at home go into hospital unnecessarily because of substandard care. Additionally, this year's CQC Care Update found that people with dementia are being admitted from care homes for avoidable reasons significantly more than those with other conditions.

Local authorities are increasingly being forced to cut social care services that play a key role in preventing vulnerable people from reaching crisis point. Since 2010, over £1.8billion has been cut from adult social care across the country[1]. In 2005, half of local authorities funded care for anyone with moderate or higher needs. Today, 84 per cent limit care funding to people with critical or substantial needs.[2].

Alzheimer's Society today argues that investing in preventative social care services for people with moderate care needs will help people live well in the community and in turn mean fewer will need expensive hospital care.

Michelle Fraser, from Wigan, whose father struggled to access social care said:

'Because the funding wasn't available to support dad at home, he ended up going to hospital – which made his dementia progress faster. He was in hospital for four months and sadly couldn't return home. If he'd got the right support and care at home that would have allowed him to live well for longer.'

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive at Alzheimer's Society said:

'People with dementia have become the collateral damage of austerity, with councils across the country forced to cut care because of a huge black hole in funding. This spending review is an opportunity for the government to invest in care so that people with dementia can be supported to live well either at home or in a care home rather than reaching crisis point.

'The care system is supposed to be about prevention but lack of resources mean it is sadly reduced to a crisis intervention role. We need more investment to stop the system from needing rescue itself. Eighty per cent of people in care homes and a quarter of people in hospitals have dementia. Failure to act is not an option.'

Notes:

[1] Successive budget surveys by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services report a £1 billion reduction in social care funding across the country in 2011-12 with an additional £890m planned for 2012-13.

[2] Scope et al (2012), 'The other care crisis'. Available at: http://www.scope.org.uk/sites/default/files/The_Other_Care_Crisis.pdf