Supporting people with dementia is not just a health and social care issue. Achieving dementia friendly communities is the responsibility of many council departments, all of which are financially stretched. Additional support is required to do more to develop dementia friendly communities.
- Councils are committed to supporting people living with dementia and their families to live the lives they want to lead in their local communities.
- Supporting people with dementia is not just a health and social care issue. Achieving dementia friendly communities is the responsibility of many council departments, all of which are financially stretched. Additional support is required to do more to develop dementia friendly communities.
- Appropriate housing, with a range of care and support, is key to supporting people with dementia and their carers. In order to ensure that people with dementia have access to the housing options that are right for them, we need government to give councils the powers and flexibilities to deliver more accessible homes for their communities.
- COVID-19 has put adult social care firmly in the public, political and media spotlight. This emergency has highlighted the essential value of social care to the wider public and this interest needs to be harnessed in the debate about the future of care and support. Long-term reform is urgently needed.
- Whilst we are pleased that the Queen’s Speech contained commitments to bring forward proposals on social care reform, councils urgently need a clear timeline. Councils will also want to see concrete funding proposals that will provide sustainable support to people of all ages across the country who draw on social care.
- Our position is that the Government should make the case for increases in national taxation and/or a social care premium with different options for paying in. One of the key issues in taking such a significant step is the framing of the proposal. Too often we hear of the ‘burden of ageing’ or ‘tsunami of support for older people’. This starts from an inherently negative position. If we can portray investment in social care as an investment in us all – as part of our national infrastructure – we stand a better chance of winning public support.
- Risk pooling is particularly important. Social care needs an equivalent risk pooling mechanism to the NHS, so that risk is shared amongst the whole population (on a means-tested basis for a degree of progressivity) to ensure nobody faces catastrophic costs, which can happen with families affected by dementia.
- The pandemic has clearly shown how important it is to have a highly skilled, well equipped, and supported care workforce which has parity of esteem with the NHS workforce. There needs to be tangible improvements in the pay of the adult social care workforce, potentially more in line with comparable roles in the NHS, as well as investment in training and workplace development. As per our 2020 Spending Review submission, we believe the Government should commission an independent review of care worker pay and other terms and conditions.
Support for people living with dementia
Alzheimer’s Society research suggests the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on people with dementia and their carers. This must be acknowledged as we recover from the pandemic.
Councils are committed to supporting the recovery from the pandemic. They deliver or commission a huge range of services that can have an impact on people with dementia and their carers: including public health, housing, leisure, planning, licensing, transport, and children’s services. However, councils have lately prioritised adult social care above other services in the face of financial pressures. Additional support is required to do more to support people with dementia to live the lives they want to lead.
We have seen continued interest in local authorities becoming Dementia Friendly Communities or establishing Dementia Action Alliances. The LGA has published and continues to promote a guide for councils on dementia friendly communities.
We must ensure a sufficient supply of suitably designed housing that supports positive ageing. This promotes independence for people living with dementia and reduces the number of people relying on social care and the NHS. Timely adaptations help to keep people in their homes for longer, fit and well and out of hospital. In order to ensure that people with dementia have access to the housing options that are right for them, we need government to give councils the powers and flexibilities needed to deliver more accessible homes for their communities.
Through health and wellbeing boards, councils are uniquely placed to bring health and housing partners together to plan for how best to meet the housing needs of the growing numbers of people living with dementia and their carers.
It is also crucial that the Department of Health and Social Care’s upcoming Dementia Strategy includes proposals to ensure that people with dementia and their families have immediate access to information and advice following a dementia diagnosis, as well as a professional to talk to about any concerns they may have.
The adult social care system could not survive without the contribution of unpaid carers, who provide vital support for thousands of people every day. Councils fully recognise their crucial role and assess and support hundreds of thousands of carers every year but could do even more with the right resources.
A recent report found that the 2014 Care Act’s strengthening of carers’ rights did not improve their access to support because of council budget pressures. Every part of the care and support sector is under intense pressure due to the pandemic and councils are doing all they can to support carers and those they care for.
Caring can place a real strain on carers – emotionally, physically and financially. COVID-19 has further highlighted the incredibly valuable role played by unpaid carers and the difficult circumstances they face. An estimated 4.5 additional people have become unpaid carers because of the pandemic. This is on top of the 9.1 million unpaid carers already caring before COVID-19 with many juggling their own health and wellbeing issues and employment.