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Underfunded community services impact dementia care

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Community dementia services require funding Community dementia services require funding

The NHS must increase spending on community dementia services to relieve the pressures on acute services and long term care providers, a report by the Alzheimer's Society has said.

The report, Dementia 2015: Aiming higher to transform lives, identified several failings in the provision of care for patients with dementia. It found that 32% of patients said that they were not living well with dementia, and 53% had felt anxious or depressed as a result of the condition. A further 49% said that they were not being provided with enough support for the condition by local government and healthcare organisations.

Martina Kane, senior policy officer at the Alzheimer's Society, said: 'Community services need to be there to support people after diagnosis. In our survey of GPs, we found that some were unwilling to diagnose patients with dementia because they did not think there is adequate support in the community. We also hear reports of people who have struggled through the system to be diagnosed, only to be left alone after diagnosis.'

With over two thirds of people with dementia living in the community, the report stated that it is essential for community services to be invested in to improve the situation.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said: 'People can need a lot of help to live well with dementia. Families and friends are a vital source of support but they mustn't be relied on to do everything. As dementia takes hold, people with dementia and their carers look to statutory services to give them the back-up they desperately need to cope.'

The report suggests that home visits by community nurses should be at least 30 minutes long, and the government should change regulations to ensure this happens. It cites figures from a Freedom of Information request which showed that 593,000 care visits between 2010 and 2013 lasted just five minutes, which the report's authors stated was not long enough to perform a full patient assessment.

Another focus of the report is the need for healthcare settings to become more accessible for people with the condition, or 'dementia-friendly.' Ms Kane said that this means that general practices should be appropriately designed to ensure that it is a safe place for people with dementia, with features such as clear signage and understanding of how to engage with patients.

She said practice nurses could play a role in this, stating that they should 'be aware that a different approach may be needed when seeing a patient with dementia. A nurse may have to say things more than once and clearly explain what they are doing when assessing a patient with dementia.'

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