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 190,000 new ‘Dementia Friends’ at M&S, Argos, Homebase, Lloyds Bank and Lloyds Pharmacy

  • £90m package to improve dementia diagnosis
  • Prime Minister appoints World Dementia Envoy

Following December’s G8 summit, the UK continues to lead the world in the fight against dementia with a £90 million package to improve dementia diagnosis and care and the appointment of a World Dementia Envoy to raise funds for research towards a cure. Leading British businesses have also signed up to the cause with over 190,000 staff at M&S, Argos, Homebase, Lloyds Bank and Lloyds Pharmacy to learn to support customers who have dementia. Following the ambition set out as part of the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia, NHS England will invest £90 million in diagnosing two thirds of people with dementia by March 2015. As part of this, NHS England will work with local areas where we know that in some it takes up to 25 weeks to carry out diagnostic assessments whereas in others the wait is as little as six weeks on average.

As well as improving diagnosis, the GP Contract that the Health Secretary recently negotiated will mean that from April, every person over 75 will have a named accountable GP and the most vulnerable two per cent in each practice will receive an enhanced service including same day telephone consultations and proactive case management. People diagnosed with dementia and their carers will also be able to sign up to a new service on the NHS Choices website to get essential help and advice in the early stages of their condition.

From April 2015, councils and the NHS will get £3.8 billion in the Better Care Fund to work with each other and the voluntary sector and it is expected that local areas will use some of this to improve care for people with dementia, such as providing access to dementia advisors, reminiscence services and counselling. The best areas already do this and the Health Secretary is asking Health and Wellbeing Boards to make this a reality across the country.

In some areas:

  • Dementia Advisors are available to support those with dementia and their families – someone who they and their family can get to know, who knows the local services and who is there for them every step of the way to give them expert information and advice and help them to manage their condition.
  • ‘Reminiscence care’, such as memory boxes filled with personal items from someone’s past or time spent listening or dancing to music they remember to help keep their memories alive, is already playing a key part in excellent care.
  • Counselling is offered, not just to someone diagnosed with dementia, but also to their family or carers, to help them adjust to this life-changing news and prepare for the challenges that will lie ahead.

Evidence shows that in France, more GPs spot the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease than friends and family – in stark contrast to the UK. To talk to them about how this has been achieved and their plans for faster diagnosis, the Health Secretary travelled to France yesterday (Thursday) to see a leading Brain and Spine Institute and to exchange information and views with French dementia experts and the Health Minister Madame Marisol Touraine.

In addition, four major British businesses have all pledged staff to become ‘Dementia Friends’. Sixty thousand staff at Marks & Spencer, 70,000 Lloyds Pharmacy employees, 50,000 staff at Home Retail Group – which owns Argos and Homebase – and 11,500 customer facing staff at Lloyds Bank will learn to understand what dementia is, how it can affect a person’s ability to do day to day things and how they can help make a difference. On top of the 60,000 people who have already signed up to the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends programme, this will bring the total number of Dementia Friends to over 250,000.




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