I have consistently outlined in the Dáil the need to provide additional resources for Dementia Care. There is an urgent need to provide adequate services throughout the country. Reply to most recent Parliametary Question below –
For Written Answer on : 18/09/2018
Question Number(s): 456 Question Reference(s): 37300/18
Asked by: Brendan Smith T.D.
To ask the Minister for Health if consideration will be given to the request by an organisation (details supplied) in relation to the need to provide additional funding for specific health services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. (Details Supplied) Alzheimer Society of Ireland and the need for investment in Dementia-specific services – The Alzheimer Society of Ireland in conjunction with the HSE mapped dementia-specific services in Ireland and found that no person with dementia in Ireland is living in an area with a basic minimum standard of care. The majority of people with dementia want to remain active in their communities and continue to live in their own homes, but many don’t have the supports they need to do this. The Alzheimer Society of Ireland is therefore calling on Government to invest over €12 million towards community supports for people with dementia. As a constituent I call on you to support this ask to ensure Government takes meaningful action on dementia in Budget 2019. This investment would start to address the service gap by providing a minimum standard of community service in each county, provide Dementia Advisers in every county across Ireland, provide Key Workers in every Local Health Office and provide Dementia Inclusive Community Coordinators to ensure the development of a dementia inclusive Ireland. These supports are urgently needed and this investment will be a first step in supporting people with dementia to live well in our community.
As a response to the challenges facing people with dementia and their families and carers, the National Dementia Strategy was launched in December 2014. The Strategy contains 35 priority and additional actions and its implementation is being led by the National Dementia Office in the HSE. The office has made substantial progress towards developing evidence-based care pathways for people with dementia. Progress made to date and future plans, are recorded in the mid-term review of the Strategy’s implementation, which was published in May this year.
The Strategy’s implementation was boosted at the time of its launch through a joint programme of investment by the HSE and the Atlantic Philanthropies. This €27.5 million investment allowed for a number of key actions within the strategy to be resourced and implemented. It funded the PREPARED programme, which offers education and clinical resources for GPs and Primary Care Teams; intensive homecare packages for people with dementia; the Understand Together awareness campaign; and the establishment of the National Dementia Office, which has an important role in implementing the Strategy. The Office has made substantial progress towards developing evidence-based care pathways for people with dementia. Additional projects are being funded through €6.26 million in Dormant Accounts funding secured by the Department of Health in the 2016, 2017 and 2018 Dormant Accounts Fund Action Plans.
In 2016 and 2017, the National Dementia Office partnered with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland on a project to map dementia-specific community-based services and supports. It provides a useful snapshot and baseline study into what, where and when dementia services are being offered. The study has also been used to inform a service finder hosted on the National Dementia Office’s website. This allows people to search for dementia-specific community services in their area. There are gaps in access to services and a large variance in what services are provided across the country. The National Dementia Office has met with senior HSE officials in each Community Healthcare Organisation region to highlight gaps in each area and to develop local action plans to improve service provision.
The National Dementia Office has also developed a needs analysis framework to support local dementia service planning and development. This framework is a mechanism to help the Office direct time, energy and resources into dementia care that most appropriately meets the needs of people with dementia. It will be used to make dementia service development more responsive and consistent across the country.
The National Dementia Strategy calls for the HSE to consider the provision of dementia advisers, based on the experience of demonstrator sites. In order to fully capture the experience of demonstrator sites and inform the future development of this service, the National Dementia Office commissioned an external evaluation of the service. The evaluation, by University College Cork, began in November 2017 and is expected to be finalised by September 2018. Initial results indicate that a majority of people with dementia are satisfied with the information, advice, support and signposting provided by dementia advisers. The service has brought normality to their lives, provided understanding about dementia and given people with dementia the confidence to ask questions. The appointment of additional dementia advisers will be considered when the results of this evaluation are available.
A priority action in the National Dementia Strategy is the appointment of key workers to coordinate each patient’s care and promote continuity, and ensure that the patient knows who to access for information and advice. It is proposed that the key worker will be responsible for the coordinated planning and delivery of individually tailored care plans, developed in consultation with the person, their family carers and a range of health and social care practitioners. The key worker will also provide expert knowledge and leadership in dementia.
The Department of Health has secured funding through the 2018 Dormant Accounts Action Plan to continue funding in 2019 for the Dementia Community Activation Coordinator post which has been co-funded through a partnership between the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and the HSE during 2018. The Community Activation Coordinator is working with national organisations and key community stakeholders to support community dementia champions across Ireland. The Coordinator will seek to grow the number of champions and people within communities to take action to create sustainable dementia inclusive communities.
With regard to the specific requests for funding referred to by the Deputy, the level of funding available for the Department of Health in 2019 and the quantum of services to be provided by the HSE will be considered as part of the national Estimates and budgetary process and National Service Planning.