This Dementia Action Week (May 17-23), I join Alzheimer’s Society in asking the government to #CuretheCareSystem. We’ve all had a very difficult year, but for people affected by dementia it’s been devastating.
More than 34,000 people with Dementia have died of Covid, according to Alzheimer’s Society. This makes up around one in four of all UK Covid deaths – making those with the condition the worst hit by the pandemic. Speaking to constituents, I’ve heard how people living with dementia have experienced a significant deterioration in their condition because care has been interrupted, support was limited, and they have been isolated in lockdown.
Since 2010, there have been £8 billion cuts to social care budgets by successive Tory governments. Even before the pandemic, social care was desperately in need of reform. The Conservatives continued to ignore its importance in our society.
This has left a care system that’s unfair, costly, and difficult to access. It has massive effects on patients and their families and friends, for example 40% of family carers spent over 100 hours per week caring for a loved one with dementia during the lockdown.
Last week I met with representatives of the Alzheimer’s Society and we discussed their concerns about the increase in dementia deaths and a lack of social contact caused by the lockdown. That’s why it is more important than ever that one legacy of the pandemic must be creating a strong social care system which can meet people’s needs into the future.
During his first speech as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson promised to ‘fix the crisis in social care once and for all’. Sadly, we are yet to see a plan, almost two years later.
Last week during Business Questions, as Shadow Leader of the House of Commons, I asked Jacob Rees-Mogg if Matt Hancock would explain why there were only 9 words about the social care reform in the Queen’s Speech, despite it being more important than ever.
During my discussion with Alzheimer’s Society, I learnt that only 44% of carers have dementia training, despite it being more than likely they will be working with dementia patients during their career. Care providers are doing their best, but more and more people are staying at home who need to use residential care as they are scared of the circumstances.
I support Alzheimer’s Society’s calls for the government to commit to publishing a clear, budgeted, plan for social care reform, ensuring that the reform truly improves the quality of care that people receive. As the Shadow Leader of the House of Commons I will continue to monitor the government’s progress and scrutinise this long overdue and critically urgent reform.