The Government has published a ‘dementia atlas’, which reveals the postcode lottery that exists across England for people affected by the condition.
The atlas maps five themes of care – prevention, diagnosis, support, living with dementia and end of life care – using benchmarks for each.
Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt has said that the new atlas should help drive improvements by helping to identify which areas are currently falling short in the services they offer to dementia sufferers.
Statistics show that in areas such as Aylesbury and North East Lincolnshire, around 85 per cent of patients receive face to face consultations but in other areas, for example Somerset, the figure is as low as 50 per cent.
Dementia charities are now calling for an end to postcode variation, arguing that regional variations in population density and age may explain some but not all of the differences in the level of care.
George McNamara from the Alzheimer’s Society charity said: "The causes of variation need to be investigated to ensure care is never a gamble."
Caroline Abrahams of Age UK said: "In some areas we know help is really good but elsewhere services are frankly not up to scratch, with only a few people receiving at least an annual review of their care following diagnosis.
"This is an unacceptable postcode lottery of care. We must continue efforts to improve both access to, and quality of, care for the growing number of us living with dementia."
Currently there are 676,000 people living with dementia in England and this figure is set to rise. Mr Hunt said that by publishing the current levels of care "we are shining a spotlight on areas where there is still work to be done, whilst highlighting where we can learn from best practice".
The atlas also shows which areas of England are deemed to be dementia-friendly communities – places that have taken steps to make life easier for people with dementia and their carers, for example training local retailers on how to assist customers with the condition.
A large part of the West Midlands and Yorkshire are now dementia-friendly, but many other regions in the north and south are lagging behind.
Lee McClellan, a partner with Palmers who specialises in Older Client legal issues said: “The government’s atlas graphically illustrates that there is a great deal of disparity in the care and support available to dementia sufferers and their families.
“The results are shocking, but not altogether unexpected. They force each of us to consider the future.
“At Palmers, we can provide sensitive advice and practical support with issues including creating and registering Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA), applications to the Court of Protection and issues relating to the provision and funding of long-term care.”
A number of Palmers’ lawyers and support staff are trained Dementia Friends. The firm is also involved with the Southend Dementia Action Alliance, initiated by Southend Council, which aims to make Southend a Dementia Friendly area.
For more information on our Older Client services, please contact us.