Saturday 22 October 2016

Alzheimers cases to rise 200pc as lack of funding is criticised


a charity boss has warned that the Government isn't properly funding dementia services despite a predicted rise of almost 200pc in sufferers.

Tina Leonard, of the Alzheimer Society of Ireland (ASI), said that while they are supportive of the Government's strategy to help the 48,000 people with the condition, it is not getting enough cash.

"They've published the National Dementia Strategy, but they haven't implemented it. Not enough money has been set aside for it," she said.

Over €27m has been given for the strategy, but the charity said this is "a tiny drop in the ocean" for improving services.

Ms Leonard called for the strategy to be implemented with dementia cases set to rise 193pc over the next 26 years, to 140,000, by 2041.

The Government's strategy, launched last December, sets out to fund only three highlighted areas - intensive home care support, GP education and training and dementia awareness.

"It's the first time we've had a policy document that looks at planning for dementia care," she said.

"Not enough money has been set aside for it.

"There's only money to support three actions but there isn't money to implement anything else," she added.

Ms Leonard said the charity is disappointed with the Government's lacklustre approach to measures which would increase care for patients.

"There is lots more in the strategy and there's no government commitment to resourcing or funding that now, next year or the year after that," she said.

Implementation of the strategy would be a huge achievement for people and their families, with 4,000 patients under the age of 65.

"There would be real change for those effected by dementia because there would be a pathway of care which doesn't exist now. It really needs to be implemented.

"We're absolutely calling on the Government to act. This is a cross-party issue, this is a full country issue. They must include the continuation of this strategy and its implementation in their programme for the next government."

Despite the national strategy and meetings with the Health Minister and TDs, who say the commitment is there, the charity remains hesitant for the future.

"We aren't convinced that there is real political will and leadership on this. We don't see it. The language of the strategy isn't as proactive as it should be," Ms Leonard said.

The charity is also critical of Ireland's non-attendance at March's World Health Organisation (WHO) ministerial conference on dementia treatments and cure.

"It was the day after St Patrick's Day in Geneva and who represented the Irish Government? Nobody.

"When I talk about political will and leadership, the words are on the page but I'm not seeing it in action."

A spokesperson from the Department of Health responded by telling the Herald that the national strategy "will ultimately have a positive impact for those living with dementia".


"It is designed to transform the care landscape for those with dementia in a way that will last and that can be scaled up as resources allow," the representative said.

The Department of Health spokesperson also said that "prior ministerial commitments" impacted on attendance at the WHO convention.

"While attendance at conferences can be worthwhile, it does not in itself do anything to improve the services that are available to people living with dementia in Ireland, and measures that tangibly improve these services are a much more concrete demonstration of where priorities lie," they added.

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