Dementia is a major health policy issue in the UK. This is because of its significance to health care professionals charged with providing treatment to patients suffering from it. Dementia is the word used to describe the types of illness that causes brain damage leading to symptoms of memory loss, confusion, language problems, and behavioural change. There are estimated 821,884 people with dementia living in the UK, representing one person in every 88 of the population. The prevalence is expected to rise to about 980,000 by 2021 and 1,735,087 by 2051 and increase by 38% over the next 15 years and by 154% over the next 45 years (Dept. of Health, 2010). The disease costs the UK economy approximately £23 billion a year, which implies that by 2051 the costs are expected to treble.
Statistics in the dementia UK report show that up to 13% of deaths may be attributed to dementia. There are also 476,000 unpaid individual carers for people with dementia in England (Dept. of Health, 2010). Dementia costs the health and social care economy more than cancer, heart disease, and stroke combined. On average, the estimated economic burden of late onset dementia is £25,000 per year for each affected person.
Recently, dementia policy development has emphasised the values, needs, and supportive networks that individuals with dementia and their relatives need so as to live a dynamic satisfying life (Doel & Shardlow, 2009). Currently, the United Kingdom health policy bodies such as the National Dementia Strategy for England and Alzheimer Society have unequivocally recognised people with dementia as entitled to quality care and services. It is estimated that about 12,000 people under 65 years in England have early onset of dementia (Allsop, Jones, & Baggot, 2004). This figure is based on referrals to services and there it is likely to be an underestimate.
Consequently, the National Dementia Strategy for England has since its establishment embraced training and education concerns and at the same time identified three areas of specific intervention. These areas include improving awareness, early diagnosis and intervention, and improving quality of care for dementia. Apparently, there is a greater emphasis on user involvement in service policy planning and delivery, which has ended up in numerous studies that seek insights and feedback from people with dementia in addition to care givers.
Much can be done in the health care sector to assist individuals to deal with the signs of dementia. However, the identification rate in England is only 45 percent, which is lower than in parts of the UK such as Ireland and Scotland. To raise the diagnosis rate, there is a need to ensure that physicians avail information to people aged between 60 and 80 years about memory examinations as a part of the NHS programme initiative. Essential financing should be allocated to enhance research on how to increase dementia diagnosis rates.
In the United Kingdom, nurses with community mental health training are assuming increasingly central roles in early support service environment. These nurses are receiving special training in dementia care and are working in partnership with family care individuals and persons with dementia during the stage immediately following diagnosis (Allsop, Jones, & Baggot, 2004). The National Dementia Strategy for England is requesting every hospital in England to work towards becoming dementia-responsive. This body is ensuring that information about dementia is available via their website so that individuals and care givers can locate facilities in their localities.
In addition, the Partnership for Older People Projects (POPPS) in the UK has been established in 29 locales with funding from the Department of Health. The overall goal of POPPS is to provide earlier and preventive services for older people with or at risk for mental health problems such as dementia. Partnerships have been forged between statutory and voluntary sector organisations in most POPPS communities. Embedded within many POPPS projects are creative early support services for people with early stage dementia and their careers, including well-being cafes where people can meet in a relaxed atmosphere to discuss their challenges and accomplishments in the face of living with dementia (Doel & Shardlow, 2009).
Developments in all aspects of dementia care, along with the increasing numbers of people with dementia receiving both generic and specialised health and social care services, make it significant that health and social care professionals receive education and training to equip them with the knowledge, skills, and underpinning attitudes to care for people with dementia and their families. In their research Allsop, Jones, & Baggot (2004) further outlined that if nurses as key players in the delivery of dementia care are to be equipped adequately, then it is essential that they are able to access educational courses in dementia at a variety of levels wherever in the UK they are based.
People with dementia are rarely the subject of policy statements per se. The lives of people with dementia are affected by an enormous range of health and welfare policies as well as wider policies that shape the communities in which they live (Doel & Shardlow, 2009). In order to achieve greater social inclusion for people with dementia, it is important to ensure that they are not excluded from the wider policy debates that concern them and that these wider policy debates encompass the diversity of experience within and between disadvantaged groups, including people with dementia.
Dementia is one of the biggest societal policy challenges the UK faces. There exist negative impacts of dementia on people with it as well as on their families in terms of social and health service use (Hunter, 2008).. There are powerful misconceptions concerning dementia, regarding it as a normal part of aging. In the United Kingdom, it has been estimated that only about a third of people with dementia receive a diagnosis of the disease (Hunter, 2008).
The emphasis of dementia care policy in the UK is significant because there was no essential information on the numbers of affected by the condition in the UK until 2006. Recent publications carried out by Alzheimer Society have commissioned several reports, which have brought new information on numbers and costs. This information has been fundamental in the development of dementia care policy in the United Kingdom. This policy is important for the UK government because the incidence of dementia increases with age and due to the fact that people are living longer in the UK (Allsop, Jones, & Baggot, 2004). This implies that more people in the future will develop dementia.
The table below represents a report showing the prevalence rates for dementia in the UK. The research was conducted in 2010 by the Health Economics Research Centre at the University of Oxford and was specially made by Alzheimer’s Research Trust. The 2010 dementia United Kingdom report estimates that in 2009-2010 there were approximately 821,884 people with dementia in the UK estimated at 1.3% of the total population in the UK. The same report projects that there will an estimated 80% raise in the number of people aged 65 and over in the UK by 2051. The population focus is on people between 60 and 80 years old. The population focus is critical for dementia policy because for many years it has been encouraging community based services in preference to institutionally based service (Moore & Jones, 2012). It is estimated that 5% of people with dementia live in specialised dementia residential and nursing homes. There are many people with dementia living in non-specialist residential homes.
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