With Wendy Mitchell being refused personal independent payment despite living with dementia and needing support for independent living, we can take announcements on universal credit with a large dose of salt. And the housing revolution has not exactly happened since the mass sale of council houses in another whirlwind revolution.
So – I want to break something to you gently.
Big Charity won’t ‘fix dementia’.
I know that people will refer to their interaction with Big Charity as liberating and helping them ‘to get their life back’, but the narrative of Big Charity has been articulately painted to lull you into a fraudulent sense of complacency.
Since 2012, the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge, the same Prime Minister who has helped to bequeath you astronomic national debt, a #Brexit which will cost billions and a foreign policy in disarray, made absolutely no effort to include social care.
Now, care homes which have been described as “good” by the Care Quality Commission can be pretty diabolical. A third of nursing homes don’t do special provision for people with dementia’s complex needs, and many local authorities say they can’t cope with providing social support for people needing care at home.
This is absolutely no surprise from a narrative which has relentlessly pursued an agenda of a ‘Small State’ offering jam tomorrow, or a cure by 2025 which is only nine years away now. Every month or so, there is another new breakthrough, or another drug failing at phase 3 trial level. But a piecemeal therapy might come – and hope is important. But false hope is cruel.
Big Charity have been successful in campaigning for closing the ‘diagnosis gap’, with gongs to boot, but we still don’t have a handle on quite how many people have been wrongly diagnosed with dementia, particularly during that period when NHS England financially ‘incentivised’ testing for dementia.
Big Charity for dementia is not “just about managing”. In fact, they’ve never had it so good.
Every misdiagnosis is a tragedy, and yet there is been no outcry over this. There has hardly been an outcry in a call for a public enquiry into the Orchid View care home deaths attributable to neglect. This is apparently not how our society works, as long as we conclude every article in a newspaper with a trite ‘here’s how you contact the Alzheimer’s Society, and you become a Dementia Friend’.
This narrative has been built up to treat social care as an irrelevance. This fantasy is of course shattered once somebody finds she cannot go to work any more because her parent has progressed Alzheimer’s disease and needs round the clock care. For some reason, economists tend not to draw attention to the opportunity cost of unpaid carers deprived of doing any other job for the economy.
It also treats the NHS as a complete irrelevance to people with dementia, but people with dementia are deserving of having their physical and mental health needs like anyone else. A lot of acute care goes into looking after people with dementia, including falls, sensory impairment, infections, incontinence, and yet there is no narrative on enhancing health for people with dementia – only a ‘fight for a cure’ for the last few years.
The whole thing quite frankly is a disgrace. But the skill of Big Charity is always to shift the goalposts as if their interest in dementia is one giant marketing and PR programme. Slick ads don’t get around the issue of a NHS and social care system at breaking point, and a complete disrespect for professionals at sky high level.
Dementia does not exist for the benefit of Big Charity or for others to “print money” from grants. Shocking but true. Big Charity have helped to contribute to a society where the UK wants to compete with Donald Trump for the lowest corporation tax rates in the universe. Philip Hammond MP, safe pair of hands who was Chief Secretary to the equally disastrous George Osborne MP, intends to raise the living wage, but have the consequences on the care sector been thought through?
We are encouraged to care more about offshore multinationals able to squirrel away their tax abroad, “investing in the UK”, or the profit margin of companies, than a system which can care for older people, many of whom who have dementia, properly.
Enhancing health and wellbeing of people with dementia, and carers, needs action not words. It needs to go more than ‘giving people a voice’, important though that is, and “giving people a life back”. It has to go far beyond carefully worded soundbites. For example, Big Charity now wants to talk about “people affected by dementia” in a wish to clump people with dementia and carers together. But they are not the same. They have complementary but different rights. For example, Truffle the Cat’s right to kill a mouse is not the same as that mouse’s right to life.
The Autumn Statement at lunchtime will do nothing for dementia. But in this small state liberal Big Charity Society, this should come as no surprise. You only have nine years to wait for a cure anyway.