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Dementia Awareness Week

Dementia Awareness WeekDementia is another issue close to our hearts at jag, given our client base. Dementia Awareness Week (18-24 May) comes at a time this year when we have been shocked and saddened by stories of neglect in care homes and hospitals. It seems as though raising awareness of dementia amongst the general public may be less of a challenge than developing a more knowledgeable and compassionate approach to the treatment of dementia sufferers in our social care system.

The Alzheimer’s Society is fortunate to have the support of Public Health England and the Prime Minister. Their TV campaign encouraging us to become a Dementia Friend may go some way to helping reduce the isolation experienced by the 800,000 people in the UK who live with the illness. Creating more dementia-friendly communities is a laudable aim, especially as it is predicted that in 2014 50,000 carers will quit their job and 66,000 more will need to change their working practices to support relatives and friends.

Whilst we hope that businesses and communities can become more dementia-friendly, the fact remains that many healthcare professionals are still poorly trained. Back in 2010, dementia was identified as the health and social care challenge of the 21st century – the number of people in the UK with dementia is predicted to double in the next 40 years. With that knowledge, David Cameron launched the Dementia Challenge in March 2010 to tackle the ‘quiet crisis’ and the May 2013 report suggested that some progress had been made.

But with research knowledge on dementia lagging far behind other diseases such as cancer, and hospitals being criticised for their continued ignorance of how to care for patients with dementia, there is little concrete evidence yet of the disease being a priority.

This year’s Dementia Awareness Week is about opening up. Let’s hope that when we do, we will receive the support we need not just from our dementia friends, but from the health and care professionals in whom we place so much trust.

See Tony Husband’s poignant account of ‘losing’ his father to dementia.

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