Everyone is forgetful sometimes. Whether its someone’s name, where we’ve left our keys, or a friends birthday – having a lapse in memory is a normal part of life.
Dementia, however, is more than just forgetfulness. Caused by diseases of the brain, it can extend to a wide range of symptoms including difficulties with keeping up with communication and conversation, or experiencing changes in mood and behaviour.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, around 3,570 people in Barnsley live with dementia.
By 2030, it is predicted that this will increase by 39.2% to 4,810 people.
Though many of these people live well with dementia, many are also in need of care, with some needing full time support.
I know a number of organisations who do excellent work supporting people locally, including Age UK which I have visited, and BIADS, of which I am a patron.
Too often, however, the social care needs of those with dementia are not being properly met.
Even before the pandemic, the social care system was under strain. Indeed, in the last decade, over £8 billion has been cut from local authority care budgets, despite growing demand.
Staffing is also short. Last year, there were 105,000 vacancies in adult social care, not helped by the fact that the conditions for these roles are often poor, with almost a quarter of workers on zero hours contracts.
In the House of Commons, the Government has had the chance to fix these problems through the new Health and Social Care Bill.
However, despite making working people pay hundreds of pounds more a year in national insurance, their plans will do nothing to improve the quality of care, or get more people who need care the support they need now.
The plans will also not stop people having to sell their homes to pay for care.
In fact, under the Prime Ministers proposals, working people that need care and have assets under £186k will have to lose almost everything to pay for their care, whereas someone with assets worth £1 million would keep almost everything.
I have voted with Labour against this cap, as did the House of Lords, but the Government are doing everything they can to push it through.
To really help those with Dementia in Barnsley and beyond, we need a long term plan of investment to reform and transform social care.
As part of this, we also need a New Deal for Care Workers, to transform their pay, training, and conditions, so that frontline care staff are equally valued with those in the NHS. We will never improve the quality of care unless this happens.
This is exactly what Labour would offer in place of the Government’s failed attempt at a fix.