Celebration and concern

Graham Stokes, from UKDC’s main sponsor HC-One, kicked off the proceedings by reminding the audience of how much had changed in the 30 years since the Journal of Dementia Care was founded.

“Over those years we’ve been waiting for the great medical breakthrough on dementia and that’s yet to arrive, but we do now realise that we don’t define the person by their disability,” said Stokes, who is the care provider’s director of dementia care services. “We put the person first and the dementia in second place, that’s been the breakthrough of the past 30 years.”

Tim Baverstock, from our congress partner Alzheimer’s Society, also pointed to the two worlds of medicine and care, although with a rather different emphasis.

“This is a crucial time for dementia with exciting breakthroughs in medical research and in diagnosis methods, yet people living with dementia and carers continue to be let down and over a third are going undiagnosed, which ought to be a national scandal,” said Baverstock, the Society’s head of local systems influencing.

Reflecting on the Major Conditions Strategy – the government’s proposed new strategy bundling dementia together with five other conditions – Baverstock insisted that it did represent progress.

“We were promised a 10 year dementia-specific plan and this is it – or not as the case may be!  There are some benefits to a multi-condition approach given that 90% of people with dementia have another condition.  But there is no funding for it and with a general election due next year it does raise a worry that this will be shelved and we’ll be back to square one.”