Dementia strategy progress ‘frustrating’

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Just one of 35 recommendations in the National Dementia Strategy has been implemented three years after the plan was published.

A progress report on the roll-out of dementia services due to be published tomorrow reveals that the pace of implementation is “frustrating” for those who are still dealing with “inadequate” services and supports.

Around 55,000 people in Ireland are currently living with dementia. That number is expected to double to 115,426 within 20 years and almost treble to 157,883 within 30 years as our ageing population increases.

The report, seen by the Irish Examiner, states that the health and social care system will need to respond with more flexible and person-centred services and supports that address the needs of the growing number of people with dementia.

The mid-term report, which assesses progress on the National Dementia Strategy, has recommended a significant increase in the amount of funding to provide the services now required.

Of the 35 actions recommended in the strategy which was first published in 2014, just one has been fully completed; 17 have preliminary work completed; a further 16 of the actions have substantial work completed; while one of the recommendations has been delayed.

In a foreword to the report, Minister Jim Daly says it is clear that significant challenges remain in ensuring that people with dementia and their carers get the support that they need to live as well as possible in all care settings and to die with dignity.

Up until recently little research was conducted on dementia in this country and so many of the actions in the strategy, which is due to run until mid-2019, centre around collecting baseline information.

The report states: “The pace of implementation can be very frustrating for people living with dementia, their families and service providers, as they are still dealing with inadequate services and supports.

However, this preparatory work is needed to make sure that the development of dementia services and supports meets the needs of people with dementia, is evidence based, and integrates seamlessly with existing services.

The report, compiled by the National Dementia Office and the Department of Health, also warns that it will be difficult to obtain resources on the scale that is needed.

A separate report published by the Alzheimer Society of Ireland last month found that there are significant gaps in service provision and inconsistency in availability of types of services across the country.

The study found that three counties, Wexford, Laois, and Leitrim, don’t have any reported dementia-specific day centres.

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