The Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) today (Thursday, January 29th) called for further investment in dementia care in Ireland following the release of a new survey which highlights huge gaps in dementia services.
The IHF said the focus needs to be widened from providing dedicated dementia units in residential care to holistically supporting the needs of people with dementia, and their families, in all care settings.
The call came following the launch of An Irish National Survey of Dementia in Long-Term Residential Care, undertaken by the Dementia Services Information and Development Centre in TCS and led by Associate Professor Suzanne Cahill. It revealed that just 11% of nursing homes in Ireland have dedicated dementia care units.
The survey highlighted inequities across the country regarding the location and number of specialist care units for older people with dementia. Counties Sligo, Wicklow, Carlow, Kilkenny, Westmeath and Offaly have no such units and the survey found that clusters of units were evident in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Donegal, Cavan, Louth, Meath and Monaghan.
The report also found that the private sector provides the bulk of dementia-specific residential care, and recommends that fairer funding be provided for the private sector, given the complex and high dependency needs of this group.
Marie Lynch, Head of Healthcare Programmes in the Irish Hospice Foundation, said: “Caring for people with dementia is not about providing dedicated dementia units, although they can be helpful for some people. We believe the focus needs to be on ensuring all residential care settings in the country are able to holistically care for people with dementia.
“Up to 70 per cent of people in residential care have dementia, and this is set to increase with the changing demographics. It is estimated that almost 47,000 people in Ireland live with dementia and this figure is expected to triple by 2050. In anticipation of this, and to provide the best care at end of life, we need to address the deficiencies outlined in the report. “
She welcomed the fact that the report emphasised the need for end of life care for all people with dementia. The Irish Hospice Foundation has to date invested €1.5 million in its Changing Minds Programme which develops dedicated resources, training and tool kits for staff and families to support people with dementia to live well until the end of life. The programme is also developing material for people with dementia who reside in residential care settings.
Ms Lynch added, “The Irish Hospice Foundation is rolling out quality improvement, education and training to support good end of life for people with dementia under our Changing Minds Programme.”
“We will continue to support the need for dementia palliative care within all health care settings so that people with dementia receive appropriate end-of-life care.”
See the full report here