Living with dementia, or caring for someone who has dementia, can be one of the most challenging experiences you face in life. As your MP for the last few years, I’ve had the privilege of meeting and speaking with many residents who live with or alongside this condition, and I know just how difficult even the most routine day-to-day activities can be.
I’ve been quite clear that one of my top priorities is to do all that I can to strengthen our communities right across South Northamptonshire, and this includes supporting people with dementia, their families and their carers (often the same people). My Constituency Office Manager has been working closely with Age UK on my behalf, at a national level and through their Northampton site, to help my team and me to understand more about how we might do this, and I met in February in Towcester with families who are experiencing dementia.
I made a commitment that my team would become one of the first across Westminster to be trained by the Alzheimer’s Society as Dementia Friends, and work with local partners to make South Northamptonshire as Dementia Friendly a community as possible. I am delighted that some members of my team have already completed their training in May, with the goal that everyone should do so by the time we return from the Conference Recess later this year.
Tackling dementia is an absolute priority for the Government and for me, and I was delighted that three years ago the Challenge on Dementia 2020 was launched. This sets out our vision for dementia care, support, awareness, and research to be transformed by 2020, and I fully support the ambition to ensure England offers the world’s best dementia care.
Nearly 700,000 NHS staff have now received dementia training alongside over 100,000 social care workers, and we are seeing that progress in the care, support and treatment of people with dementia is being made. Since 2015, new care staff have been trained to receive the Care Certificate, which equips them with the knowledge and skills to provide safe and compassionate care, including for those with dementia.
However, research is crucial to tackling dementia, and I am pleased that the Government has now doubled research spending on this area. This will be maintained to total over £300 million of public money by 2020, with the UK’s first ever Dementia Research Institute receiving £150 million.
Finally, I believe it is important to increase public awareness of dementia, and I am pleased that there are now over 1.7 million Dementia Friends and 175 Dementia Friendly Communities in the UK. I will be doing my part to ensure that my team are all Dementia Friends, and I encourage you to take part too.