New proposals in the government's plan to improve dementia care closely reflect the advice published by the council in 2009. Last week NHS England announced that it will invest £90 million to improve diagnosis of dementia, and it reported that major businesses including Marks and Spencer, Argos, Lloyds Bank and others have committed to becoming more dementia friendly. These developments are the latest in a series of steps towards realising the aims of the national Dementia Challenge that takes up many of the central conclusions and recommendations of our major report ‘Dementia: ethical issues’.

Timely diagnosis

The Council’s report highlighted the concept of a timely diagnosis - one which is at the right time for the person concerned, and for their family – recognising that early diagnosis will often be beneficial, but will not be appropriate to every single person with dementia. It also stated the importance that a disclosure of a diagnosis of dementia is not just seen as a one-off event, but rather as a process, starting with the point when the person is first referred for assessment and continuing on into follow-up support once the diagnosis has been established. Throughout this process people should have access to good quality assessment and support whenever they need it.

We therefore welcome news of an increased investment in dementia diagnosis, and are pleased to note that amongst the ambitions set out by the Department of Health for dementia care, there is an explicit commitment to providing people with dementia and their carers with a ‘timely’ assessment of their condition and diagnosis so that they can access the right care at the right time.

Dementia friendly businesses

The Council feels strongly that for dementia to be truly normalised, it needs to become an accepted, visible part of our society and people with dementia should feel comfortable carrying on with their usual activities, such as going out to lunch or popping to the shops. Our report pointed out the legal obligations of service providers such as shops, leisure facilities and restaurants to make “reasonable adjustments” to enable people with dementia to use their services.

We have previously endorsed the Dementia Friends initiative and we welcome the addition of around 200,000 staff from some of the UK’s largest retailers to the scheme. This will give specialised training to staff to give them a better understanding of the needs of people with dementia, and how to adapt their services accordingly.

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