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Dementia is a colossal challenge costing the economy billions of pounds every year. But even with the huge sums of money spent, we know a lot of this is wasted on poor quality care, and many people with dementia continue to be let down by the current system.

For this reason the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Dementia is leading an inquiry into saving money in dementia care and improving outcomes for people. We are calling on commissioners and providers of health and social care, people with dementia and carers, and leading organisations to submit evidence and contribute to this work. Best practice examples will then be shared and hopefully used across the UK, enabling the NHS, local authorities and others to deliver the best care at the right price (further details on how to submit evidence to this inquiry is below).
As chair of the APPG on Dementia, I see it necessary to highlight how poor quality care not only brings a huge physical and emotional burden to people with dementia and their families, it also costs our whole society.
In the UK the cost of dementia care is currently estimated at £20 billion a year and this is set to rise to £27 billion by 2018. We must ensure this money is spent more effectively. If we do not, in the present financial climate when we already see cuts to services in our communities, we will find ourselves in unqualified crisis.


This is frustrating when there is growing evidence available to show that improving dementia services, often by providing support to people early, can create cost savings and deliver better outcomes for people with dementia. This is not new thinking, but the process of spreading good practice is slow. We urgently need people across health and social care to regard work in this area as a priority, and understand that providing good quality care for people with dementia can help deliver against wider goals for the system.

Some of the current evidence we have includes Alzheimer's Society's report ‘Support. Stay. Save: Care and support of people with dementia in their own homes.’ It found that a quarter of a million people with dementia are receiving care and support that fails to meet their needs, and this has serious repercussions. The report states that 50,000 people are being forced into care homes early and tens of thousands more will be admitted to hospital unnecessarily.

Beside the negative impact on people’s lives, there is also a financial cost. For each avoidable month these people spend in care, the state will face a bill of at least £70million. As we face cuts in this economic period, the government will save small sums with one hand only to spend much more with the other, which is exactly what we need to avoid.

An example of cost efficient dementia care already provided to us is a mental health liaison service for hospitals in Leeds that reduced admissions and facilitated early discharge for older people. The average length of stay for people with dementia fell by 54%, saving 1,056 bed-days per year.

Our aim is to gather more practical examples like this and make them accessible to the people who design and provide services.

We are calling on all stakeholders in this area to share their ideas. Together in this way we will begin to tackle the challenge ahead, both by meeting the demands of the difficult financial climate and transforming the way care is delivered.

If you can help or would like more information, please visit the APPG webpage at

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Written by Baroness Sally Greengross   
Thursday, 31 March 2011 00:00
Last Updated on Friday, 01 April 2011 09:27


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