General Election 2017: what does it mean for dementia care?

The General Election provides a unique opportunity for the future Government to unite and take decisive action to fix dementia care funding.

Last Tuesday the Prime Minister unexpectedly announced that a general election will be held on 8 June. As everyone goes to the polls just two years after they last cast their vote, parties will be competing for support from an electorate divided over Brexit.

However, Parties will also be debating how to fix the crisis in social care. Successive Governments have tried and failed to guarantee enough funding to social care and this has resulted in calls for change. It is widely acknowledged that the current system is untenable, with local authorities struggling to provide support while people are spending everything they have on care, and the General Election provides a unique opportunity for change in funding for dementia care.

The postcode lottery for dementia care

The success of the NHS means we are living longer. Millions of us need to be cared for as we get older, and even more so if someone has dementia. People with dementia largely rely on social care for support, which can be in the form of help at home or in care homes, and are increasingly faced with having to pay for this support themselves. This is due to the failure of successive governments to invest in social care funding, which has resulted in the system struggling to cope.

The social care crisis is unfair for everyone, but particularly for people affected by dementia. Where you live makes a big difference to the care you receive, where you go to get it, and whether – if you’re eligible - your local council can afford to pay what’s needed for it. For people who are considered eligible, local authorities are often no longer able to provide the care they need and so they are being forced to top up their own care. To make matters worse, many people with dementia are being forced to sell their homes, move miles away from their families, and use their savings to compensate when they aren’t considered eligible.

In more deprived areas, demand for dementia care services far outstrips what councils can afford to provide, and many of the people who need care simply can’t afford to top it up. At the same time, the cost to local authorities of outsourcing care services to private providers is increasing. While successive Governments have made various attempts to address these mounting pressures on the system by increasing funding, these have not been able to meet the needs of the struggling system and have not adequately relieved pressure on local authorities. As a consequence, people with dementia have continued to foot the bill for care that is often inadequate and not responsive to their needs.

Failure to fund dementia care

It’s not hard to understand why councils might feel they are being short-changed. Local authorities are being forced to make difficult decisions about the future of social care services, resulting in stricter criteria to determine who gets care and the closure of services that many people rely on just to get by. Under the current system, there is significant variation in access to dementia care services depending on where people live and their ability to pay for their own care.

Whoever is elected in June must put forward a long-term solution that will ensure enough money is in the system. Only by increasing Central Government funding will people with dementia be able to access high-quality care when they need, regardless of where they live. Through adequate funding, local authorities would be able to uphold the rights of people with dementia while those affected would no longer face catastrophic costs in paying for care. Finally, by fixing dementia care funding, the future Government would enable local authorities to provide high quality and personalised support, thereby ensuring that people with dementia receive the same support as people with other conditions. The General Election provides a unique opportunity for the future Government to unite and take decisive action to fix dementia care funding once and for all - we urge them to seize this moment.

Do you think dementia care funding should be a priority for the next government? Why? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below - Unite to fix dementia care where you live.

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8 comments

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I certainly believe that the next Government should make dementia a priority for social care funding because it has a lot of catching up to do (as does mental health in general)
and it affects not just the person, but their family carer(s).

Central Government has to play their part in this because local government has suffered such severe cuts since 2010

I THINK THAT ALL ELDERLY PEOPLE SHOULD GET THEIR CARE FOR FREE. MOST OF THEM LIKE MY MOTHER HAVE WORKED HARD ALL THEIR LIVES AND HAVE PAID THERE TAXES AND NATIONAL INSURANCE CONTRIBUTIONS. MY MOTHER IS NEARLY 83 AND HAS VASCULAR DEMENTIA. SHE NEEDS A HIGH LEVEL OF CARE AND HAS TO PAY FOR IT WHICH I DO NOT AGREE WITH AT ALL. WHY SHOULD SHE HAVE TO ?.I DO NOT AGREE WITH HEALTH CARE BEING MEANS TESTED EITHER. WHY SHOULD PEOPLE HAVE TO SELL THEIR HOUSES ETC TO PAY FOR THEIR CARE?THE GOVERNMENT SHOULD PAY FOR THIS. MOST PEOPLE HAD TO WORK HARD TO BUY THEIR HOUSES AND IT DID NOT HAPPEN BY WAVING A MAGIC WAND.ALSO I DONOT AGREE WITH PEOPLE HAVING TO USE THEIR SAVINGS TO PAY FOR THEIR HEALTH CARE. THEY PAID TAX ON THEIR MONEY WHEN THEY EARNT IT AND PROBABLY HAD TO WORK HARD FOR IT. WHAT IS THE GOVERNMENT DOING WITH ALL THE MONEY THAT HAS BEEN SAVED FROM CUTTING ESSENTIAL SERVICES SUCH AS CHILD AND ELDERLY HEALTH CARE? IS IT GOING IN SOMEONES POCKET?. I THINK THAT IT IS DISGRACEFUL THAT THE GOVERNMENT TARGETS VULNERABLE PEOPLE TO SAVE MONEY.HEAR ENDETH THE FIRST LESSON

I hear what you are saying, but actually, my mother has little else to spend her money on but quality care due to her cognitive degeneration.
No one should have to pay for their health needs being met, that should come from continuing health care funding but board, lodgings , personal care etc etc in a care home setting or at home should ( I believe) remain the responsibility of individuals as realistically there would be expenses incurred wherever they live.

Should that not be the case then for people suffering from physical illnesses ? What sort of society allows discrimination against people who suffer from mental illness. I disagree with your analysis.

My mother has just gone into a nursing home because of her dementia. I have lived with her all my life. Why? Because I couldn't get a mortgage with my salary. She always said to me 'I have left the house to you in my will'. Now the house will have to be sold and I'll be left . . well . . where . .homeless? I believe that if other people are still living them, they should not have to sell the home . . whatever age that person living with them is. Time to back my bags and tent I guess

My mother died of Alzheimers at 90 years old last year, we looked after her, she attended a day centre which she self funded. My 93 year old father has vascular dementia and after us looking after him for the past years has now gone into a dementia care home. He fought for his country in Burma in WWII his family not seeing him for 3 years, he came back worked all his working life they paid their taxes, never claimed a benefit, is still being taxed on his pension but is using his savings and sale of house to now pay for his care. I had to take part time work whilst caring so had to reduce my own contribute to my own pension, furthering future reliance on possible government assistance. Whichever party gets in must get the future planning right, it is so sad our country failed the people who fought for it.

My mother is currently funding her own care as she has the means to do so from the sale of her house. I think this is good use of her money, at this point in her life she has neither the energies or the capacity to enjoy the things she used to and has enough for all the little things she does still enjoy.

That said , what I find absolutely abhorrent us the fact she is paying substantially more for her room and support than others in the same residential care home who are funded by local authority. The argument is that they "bulk buy" beds and therefore get a reduction. Perhaps, as families we should be forming alliances to ensure our loved ones are not being charged more to supplement minimum payments by local authorities. Wrong on every level.

My husband worked for more than 40 years, paying national INSURANCE, surely if I paid an insurance policy and never claimed in all that time, should the question be asked "where did all the money go" If my home insurance did not pay out if I had to make a claim I would refer to an ombudsman. Surely this is the same situation......... only difference is "the ombudsman" seems to be the government, with different rules..My husband has altziemers and needs nursing care, although this is a degenerative illness, it is deemed that this is not funded by the health department , and has to be self funded. Wish I had wasted our money, smoked, played bingo etc etc and not provided for our retirement. Others in the same nursing home receive the same wonderful care as my husband, but pay nothing..... doesn't seem fair.

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