Alzheimer Scotland’s Fair Dementia Care campaign received a boost earlier this month when it was highlighted and supported by both the Herald and Glasgow Evening Times. We will be doing more specific features from a community nursing perspective over the coming weeks and months, but here, Amy Dalyrmple, Head of Policy with Alzheimer Scotland, has provided an update on the campaign so far:
Alzheimer Scotland launched our campaign for Fair Dementia Care for people with advanced dementia in January 2019, in partnership with carers of people with advanced dementia and expert colleagues from a range of clinical disciplines including nursing. Fair Dementia Care Commission member Professor Debbie Tolson of the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice at the University of the West of Scotland provided a really helpful blog introducing the campaign to the Queens Nursing Institute of Scotland.
In the ensuing months, we have been delighted with the growth in support from the public, politicians and professionals engaged with supporting people with dementia. Many, many thanks to the Queen’s Nursing Institute for Scotland for becoming one of the first organisations to throw your weight behind the campaign – it has really helped us show why action is needed to deliver Fair Dementia Care.
At the time of writing, nearly 5000 individuals have signed up to pledge their support for Fair Dementia Care and the numbers are rising rapidly. If you haven’t done so yet, you can pledge your support online at www.alzscot.org/fair-dementia-care-sign-up-form .
At the beginning of October we released a short film which presents the campaign’s recommendations and key points with input from our campaign partners and carers affected by the unfairnesses of the current situation – you can watch it online at www.alzscot/fairdementiacare .
We’re also aiming to get Scotland’s political parties committed to deliver Fair Dementia Care. In recent weeks, we have been pleased to get public announcements from the Scottish Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Green Party that they are committed to this as policy – and we are making good progress with positive dialogue with the other parties, helped by people across Scotland affected by the lack of access to health and nursing care in advanced dementia, who are telling their own stories to their MSPs and local councillors.
A recent interesting development is the SNP’s undertaking to abolish all non-residential social care charges should they be re-elected in 2021. This would of course go some way to providing relief for the financial burden faced by some people and families, though we would want to see the detail of plans for how it would be implemented and funded to ensure that there was no adverse impact on social care eligibility criteria.
It must be said, though, that this does not deliver Fair Dementia Care. Aside from the fact that it leaves people in residential care subject still to charging, it does not address the central issue – recognised, I am sure, by many community nurses who work with people with dementia – that too many people with advanced dementia are not having their condition fully understood with appropriate responses put in place to address their growing health and nursing care needs. Fair Dementia Care demands that care is high quality and appropriate, recognising that the needs of people with advanced dementia are primarily health and nursing care needs. Our systems and structures need to change to ensure that people with advanced dementia are identified, assessed and provided with the health and nursing care they need.
Only by working in partnership across sectors and organisations will we be able to change our systems in Scotland to make sure that people with advanced dementia receive the health and nursing care they need. But the Fair Dementia Care campaign shows that the support is there to make those changes, and I am confident that by working together, we can achieve Fair Dementia Care.