More than a hundred thousand people with dementia are being urged to take part in pioneering research studies as part of plans to make England the best country in the world for dementia care, support, research and awareness by 2020.
With 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK and numbers set to rise to over one million by 2025, Minister for Care, Caroline Dinenage has reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to the condition which is now the leading cause of death in England.
Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage said:
“Dementia is a global health emergency and one the Government has not shied away from tackling – our world leading Dementia 2020 Challenge has led to impressive progress in how we treat and support people with dementia and now we are driving it forward to ensure we protect more people affected by this devastating condition.
“If you’re reading the Express today, whether you have dementia or know someone who has, I urge you to consider participating in research yourself through Join Dementia Research, or having that conversation with your loved one. Under 4% of people in England with a diagnosis are currently involved in studies but we need many, many more to help make the breakthroughs to beat this disease.”
To help tackle this global health challenge, the Government launched the Dementia 2020 Challenge in 2015. As a result of progress made so far on the Challenge:
• The current dementia diagnosis rate is 67.9% – which is above the NHS Mandate requirement of 66.7% of people living with dementia and rising from 59% in 2015.
• There are over 2.8 million Dementia Friends, an Alzheimer’s Society initiative to change perceptions and challenge prejudices around dementia.
• Dementia is now included in the NHS’s free general health check ups so people between the ages 40-74 years will be given advice on how to reduce their dementia risk.
• One million health care staff have received a level of dementia training so they can recognise and understand dementia, and signpost individuals and carers to appropriate support.
• The Government invested over £82.5 million last year in dementia research, topping a commitment to increase research investment to £60 million a year. We have also invested £15 million in the Dementia Discovery Fund, and £190 million in the UK Dementia Research Institute to help fund breakthroughs in how we treat the condition.
These measures have helped improve the lives of people living with dementia, as well as their families and carers. They also help to ensure the UK is leading the world in healthy ageing, helping older people with dementia stay independent for longer. This is a key ambition of the Government’s Ageing Society Grand Challenge, part of the Industrial Strategy.
A review of progress on the challenge also identified opportunities for further progress. These include:
• Improving participation in research to generate breakthroughs, with under 4% of people diagnosed in England being involved in studies. The aim is to have 25% of people with a diagnosis signed up to Join Dementia Research, a nationwide service that helps people in the UK find and take part in vital studies.
• Improving public awareness of the risk factors around dementia, such as heavy drinking, diabetes or high blood pressure. Recent Alzheimer’s Research UK found that only 1% of the public were able to name the seven known risks for dementia.
• Enhancing our understanding of early onset dementia, including prevalence, diagnostic rate and whether GPs need additional training to improve care for younger people with dementia.
Minister for Care Caroline Dinenage added:
“We have invested large sums in research to drive innovation and achieve much needed breakthroughs in dementia but there is still further to go and there is still no cure.
“We have made great strides in improving the awareness of our fantastic health and social care workforce and the wider public, with millions more receive training or building their understanding by becoming a Dementia Friend. This is central to ensuring compassionate and informed care and support, so people with dementia can continue to participate in society as valued members of our communities.
“With the number of people with dementia set to increase by the millions over the next few years, there’s still more to do to ensure we meet the aims of the Challenge now, and into the future. I want to see improvements in how we treat younger people with the condition and raise public awareness of the risk factors
“Dementia is a societal issue – it affects us all in one way or another. A society that supports family, friends, communities and research is a society we should all want to live in and it is a necessity to help us tackle this condition.”