Society needs to challenge ageism more, according to a nursing academic, who has spoken out following the launch of a national “dementia atlas” that reveals a postcode lottery in care.
The comments by Julienne Meyer, professor of nursing at City University London and an expert the care of older people, followed yesterday’s launch of the government’s new dementia atlas.
“We are all likely to experience first-hand dementia in ourselves or our loved ones”
The colour-coded atlas shows that standards of care vary significantly in different areas, with services failing to reach almost half the patients for check-ups even once a year in one area.
Speaking about the care variations revealed by the map, Professor Meyer, said: “It is interesting that more people are not up in arms about the ‘postcode lottery’ for dementia care.
“With the aging population and growing numbers of people with dementia, we are all likely to experience first-hand dementia in ourselves or our loved ones,” she said. “However, we tend to avoid the issue until it personally affects us. By this late this stage, we are often lack capacity to take action.”
She added: “I just don’t understand why society does not challenge ageism more in the same way that it seeks to challenge sexism or racism.
“Older people, including those with dementia, are the largest client group for health and social care,” she said. “We should take care not to tuck this fact away as a minority issue.”
The Department of Health’s new atlas is intended to allow people to make comparisons about the quality of dementia care in their area, on issues such as prevention, diagnosis and support.
The online interactive map of England sets out what is currently known about dementia care and support across the country, based on available national data.
The data is grouped in themes from NHS England’s “well dementia” pathway – preventing well, diagnosing well, supporting well, living well and dying well.
As well as the atlas, the DH also announced that actress Carey Mulligan, whose grandmother has dementia, had been appointed the first UK global ambassador for the Dementia Friends initiative.
Treat ageism like racism, says nurse older care expert
She will work to bring both international attention to the benefits of making communities dementia friendly, and a renewed focus on the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme in England.
In addition, the DH said that this week would see the launch of pilot sites for implementing a new dementia component into the NHS Health Check.
Public Health England is working with Alzheimer’s Research UK and Alzheimer’s Society to extend the dementia risk reduction component of the NHS Health Check to all 40-64-year-olds at test sites.
It will see over 250 GP practices in Birmingham, Bury, Manchester and Southampton raising awareness about dementia risk reduction, as part of the health check for the first time.