Families are footing two thirds the cost of dementia care, and are being unfairly treated by the system in the UK, says the Alzheimer’s Society in a report published today (10.9.4)

It costs an average of £32,242 a year to care for someone with dementia, but only a third comes from NHS funds.

If you have cancer, or heart disease, all your care would be free on the NHS.

So why not dementia? Because the needs of most dementia patients are for ‘social care’, that is personal care, help with dressing, bathing, and daily activities of life. And that’s the sort of help that relatives give, so that’s alright then. The fact that the stress of caring means that relatives often develop severe medical conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, reduced immune response, diabetes, etc., is not factored in by the NHS. Some elderly caregivers even die before the loved one they are caring for.

This is not news, this report today. In 2003 the Nuffield Bioethics Report said, ‘When decisions about resource allocation are made, the dementias should be considered as diseases or illnesses in just the same way as are, for example, the various forms of cancer.

‘People with dementia should not be disadvantaged by the fact that social care interventions rather than health care are sometimes the appropriate way of helping with the problems that arise as a result of the dementia, nor by the different funding arrangements between social and health care. The need for care, whether social care or health care, is a direct result of the brain disorder.’

Nothing changed after the Nuffield Bioethics Report. Is anything likely to change now?

Louise Morse

Louise Morse MA (CBT) is media and external relations manager for the Pilgrims’ Friend Society. She is a writer and speaker, and author of books on issues of old age, including dementia, published by Lion Monarch and SPCK. She is a cognitive behavioural therapist, and her Masters’ dissertation examined the effects of caring for a loved one with dementia on close relatives.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.