Cameron outlines 'dementia friend' plans
The prime minister is calling on a million members of the public to provide support for dementia sufferers.
David Cameron has set out his ambitious plan to create masses of “dementia friends” who will be able to spot the signs of the condition and offer support for sufferers.
Mr Cameron, who says that tackling dementia is a “personal priority”, hopes that one million people will sign up to receive coaching sessions by 2015.
The sessions, which will be provided in church halls and workplaces, will help to raise awareness and teach people how to support those with the condition.
“We cannot underestimate the challenge we face in dealing with dementia in our country,” he said.
“There are already nearly 700,000 sufferers in England alone but less than half are diagnosed and general awareness about the condition is shockingly low.
“Last March I made clear that I wanted to do something about that and we are now going further and faster to help people and their carers, and to support the research needed to prevent and treat the condition.
“Through the Dementia Friends project we will for the first time make sure a million people know how to spot those tell-tale signs and provide support.
“There is still a long way to go in fighting the disease but together we can improve the lives of millions.”
There are 800,000 people living with dementia in the UK and the number is expected to rise significantly with the ageing population.
Mr Cameron has also announced that the government will be giving almost £10m for dementia research and £50m to make wards and care homes more comfortable for people with dementia.
He also announced other initiatives to boost early diagnosis and help the public to better understand the condition.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “Too many people with dementia feel cut off, lonely and fearful without the support and understanding they need.
“We need to build a society where people can live well with dementia, enjoying the best possible quality of life for as long as possible.
“I want Britain to be one of the best places to be for dementia care.”
Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Dementia is a complex condition and any emphasis to improve awareness should be welcomed. This is especially important with an ageing population such as ours placing stretched services under greater strain.
“However, awareness itself is not enough. We want to see a guarantee from the government that it will invest and make a priority those services that have the capacity and expertise to support people living with dementia and their families.”
He added: “These volunteers will undoubtedly be a boost to those providing care. That being said, it must go hand in hand with proper investment, especially when those with the expertise to treat dementia, such as nurses, are being cut. This should not be an either-or scenario.”