Chief Operating Officer at Alzheimer's Society, Kathryn Smith, comments on the recent media interest around day care centre closures for people affected by dementia.
Kathryn Smith, Chief Operating Officer at Alzheimer’s Society, said:
It is usually the responsibility of the state to fund day care centre places where an individual is eligible for funding, through local authority social service budgets.
Due to the withdrawal of funding and a tightening of eligibility criteria, as a result of historic squeezing of the social care budget, as well as the fact that many people no longer choose day care to meet their needs, some day care centres are not financially sustainable.
We have not closed any day care centres without supporting the individual to find alternative arrangements, but as a charity, we have a duty to spend funds in the most effective and responsible way in order to reach as many people affected by dementia as we can.
In 2019, we are proud to say that we spent £49.3 million on direct support and £12.1 million on research – we believe this income should be spent on finding innovative ways to improve care and support and fund vital research into care and cure, and not to prop up the state by subsidising the running of day care centres through valuable donations.
We also know that people’s own preference for different types of care, as well as Alzheimer’s Society’s experience and the government’s agenda is moving towards individualised care and people are asking for more personalised support that can’t be offered through day care.
With the number of people with dementia set to double in the next two decades, we simply can’t continue to reach enough people with dementia through day care.
We always try to avoid closures where possible and our priority is to support those affected through any transitions and to help them with identifying suitable, alternative support.
People with dementia have told us what they need most: information, advice and one point of contact to guide them at the point of diagnosis through the later stages of dementia.
We are responding to this and extending our reach with a more consistent offer of support for people affected by dementia, which includes rolling out Dementia Connect across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We are now reaching and providing direct support to over 100,000 people affected the condition - by the end of 2022 this will increase to around 300,000.
The root of inadequate care for people with dementia comes back to a lack of funding from central Government, which the Daily Mail’s campaign on dementia care costs, and our own Fix Dementia Care campaign have been highlighting.
Local authorities are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and until they get adequate funding people with dementia will continue to bear the brunt."