Last week, I spoke at a Westminster Hall Debate on Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, called by Jim Shannon MP. I only had three minutes to speak on dementia and I wanted to thank the wonderful people of Oldham for their support in building a Dementia Friendly Oldham and thank you also to Oldham Dementia Action Alliance for their update – we now have 4192 dementia friends in Oldham. This is a fantastic achievement.
My speech on Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can be viewed on this link or you can read below for my contribution:
“I add my congratulations to the hon. Member for Strangford (Jim Shannon) on his exceptional speech and on securing the debate. It is a pleasure to speak, however briefly, in the debate as a co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on dementia, as the only MP—I think that is still the case—who is a dementia friends champion, and as a former carer for my mum, who had Alzheimer’s disease. As we have heard today, if anyone’s life has not already been touched by someone who has dementia, it soon will be.
I commend the Government for their commitment and, in particular, the Prime Minister’s challenge and the investment in research funding that was announced last year at the World Health Organisation’s first ministerial conference on global action against dementia. It needs global action; we cannot act in isolation. It is estimated that by 2018 the global cost of dementia will be $1 trillion. I therefore ask the Minister to update us on the longer-term plans for building on that research investment and, specifically, what funding has been set aside to meet the challenges that make up the Prime Minister’s challenge on dementia and whether we are on track.
In addition to research, we need to ensure that hospital services take into account the specific needs of people with dementia. We know from the recent Alzheimer’s Society campaign, “Fix Dementia Care”—my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mrs Lewell-Buck) mentioned some of the results—that 57% of carers, families and friends of people with dementia felt that the person they cared for was not treated with understanding or dignity in hospital; only 2% of hospital staff understood the specific needs of someone with dementia. We obviously need to address that. Could I put in a plug for the APPG report? Seven out of 10 of the people in hospital are not actually there for their dementia, but for something else. We have a report coming out next Wednesday on dementia and comorbidities, and I hope that people will be able to join us for that.
I am sure that my hon. Friend the Member for Worsley and Eccles South (Barbara Keeley) will mention this in her winding-up speech, but we cannot divorce the issues in relation to social care from dementia care. I called on someone, just in a regular door-knock, and she obviously had dementia. She was on her own. She greeted me with an empty medication bubble pack and just said, “I don’t know what to do.” Too many people are isolated in that way. So many demands are placed on family carers. I hope that the Minister can address some of those issues.”