Today, the National Audit Office published an interim report on the progress of the National Dementia Strategy which was unveiled last year. Most of the report doesn’t make kind reading for those charged with implementing the strategy as the report is critical of the progress made or rather not made.
Many of the promises made at the time have drifted away in the face of a climate of public sector spending cuts and even the most basic training has not been provided.
As the summary of the report continues, the demand for care home places is expected to grow and one wonders how much thought the government and shadow cabinet have put into their adult care policies on the basis that both main political parties seem to be banking on saving money in residential placements by keeping people at home for longer.
The indepedent care sector which provides much of the care – both home care and residential/nursing care feels excluded from the policies proposed, possibly because the focus on finances is more evident and time and money spent on training is not reflected in fees paid by local authorities.
Mr Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said today:
“The Department of Health stated in October 2007 that dementia was a national priority and brought forward a widely supported strategy in February 2009 to transform the lives of people with dementia. The action however, has not so far matched the rhetoric in terms of urgency. At the moment this strategy lacks the mechanisms needed to bring about large scale improvements and without these mechanisms it is unlikely that the intended and much needed transformation of services will be delivered within the strategy’s five year timeframe.”
I haven’t had time to read the report in full but hope to have some time to look over it over the weekend at the very least.
We have made some changes in our services, not least setting up a separate ‘memory service’ but the difficulty remains that if services are expected to improve, the money which is so short at the moment, really needs to follow it. The government can talk the talk about priorities but if, at the same time, they are talking about making ‘zero-cost’ changes, it is unlikely there will be many real improvements.