Press Release

Government launches Irish National Dementia Strategy

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tánaiste Joan Burton and Minister for Primary and Social Care Kathleen Lynch today (Wednesday 17th December 2014) launched  the Irish National Dementia Strategy. This honours the commitment in the Programme for Government to develop a national Alzheimer’s and other dementias strategy to  increase awareness, ensure timely diagnosis and intervention, and develop enhanced community based services.

The Strategy sets out a number of principles to underpin the provision of care and supports for people with dementia including:

  •  taking account of dementia in the development and implementation of existing and future health policies;
  •  encouraging the participation of people with dementia in society and in their own communities as fully as possible for as long as possible;
  •  the prioritisation of end-of-life care in an appropriate setting for those with dementia;
  •  appropriate training and supervision for all those caring for or providing services to people with dementia;
  •  directing resources to provide the best possible outcome for those with dementia, and for their families and carers.

Speaking at the launch of the Strategy, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny said, “As Taoiseach, I am determined that dementia, or indeed old age, should not rob people of what is so valuable to them: their choice and their control over their lives, their privacy and their dignity.  Central to the strategy is something that is characteristically taken away from people living with dementia and that is awareness.  We want to increase awareness of dementia in the community so that we can act faster and smarter to ensure early diagnosis, treatment and that all-important support, particularly with community-based services.”

The Tánaiste Joan Burton said, “Respect for the independence and dignity of the individual underpins this Strategy from the start. Many of the Actions are achievable without a large financial cost but yet they can, if we implement them effectively, make a real difference to the lives of those affected by dementia.”

Minister for Primary and Social Care Kathleen Lynch said, “The very mention of dementia can cause fear and confusion for everyone with those affected not knowing where to turn. Those who come into contact with a person living with dementia are often similarly confused. Reducing this confusion, correcting misinformation and misunderstandings, and focussing on what is possible at every stage of the condition, instead of what is not, are all important parts of what this Strategy is about. The generous support of Atlantic Philanthropies will allow us to implement critical actions far quicker than would otherwise have been possible, and this will not only bring direct benefits, but will also allow care approaches to be tested and refined on the basis of hard evidence.”

The Atlantic Philanthropies Country Director Mary Sutton commented, “Today’s announcement of Atlantic backing for the implementation of the National Dementia Strategy follows a period of 3 years of targeted investment by Atlantic in specific dementia initiatives totalling €14m and attracting €10m in co-funding from Government. This support, which is additional to what is being announced today, included expanded workforce training and development through Dublin City University, assembly of local demonstrations of effective person centred supports through community consortia in 4 areas around the country mobilised by Genio, innovations in end of life care for people with dementia in partnership with the Irish Hospice Foundation, and the launch by Third Age Foundation of advocacy services with a particular focus on people with dementia. Earlier this year Atlantic also concluded an agreement with the Health Research Board for a  co-funded Investment Programme in Applied Dementia Research and Capacity.

These building blocks, carried out in collaboration with Government and a range of agencies, have provided the foundations for today’s additional announcements and mean that now, for the first time,  there will be a concerted and co-ordinated national programme of implementation to improve the lives of people living with dementia into the future”.

Ends

Note for Editors

  1.  It is estimated that there are approximately 50,000 people with dementia in Ireland today. These numbers are expected to increase to over 140,000 by 2041 as the number of older people in Ireland increases.
  2. The Strategy emphasises that most people with dementia live in their own communities and can continue to live well and to participate in those communities for far longer than many people appreciate.
  3. The Strategy distinguishes between those Actions that can be progressed within existing resources and others to be addressed as more resources become available. Those identified for first implementation include:-
    • Clear responsibility for dementia to be assigned within the HSE. In this regard a dedicated Office, led at General Manager level by Mr. John Linehan, Specialist, Services for Older People, has been established within the HSE to support implementation of the Strategy;
    • Clear descriptions of care pathways, and better information and guidance on services to be made available to GPs and to people with dementia and their families and carers;
    •  A better understanding of dementia, including modifiable risk factors, to be promoted;
    •  The use of existing resources to be reviewed to ensure that they are used in the best way possible;
    •  Research to inform the design and delivery of dementia services in Ireland to be supported and given appropriate priority.
  4. Dementia Strategy Implementation Programme
    The Department of Health and the HSE have agreed a joint initiative with the Atlantic Philanthropies to implement significant elements of the Strategy over the period 2014-2017. This National Dementia Strategy Implementation Programme will represent a combined investment of €27.5m, with Atlantic Philanthropies contributing €12m, and the HSE contributing €15.5m.   This programme will promote a greater focus on timely diagnosis of dementia and on the value of early intervention,  along with the long-term objective of making people in Ireland generally more aware and understanding of the needs of people with dementia, and of the contribution that those with dementia continue to make to our society.

Key elements of the initiative include:-

  • the rollout of a programme of Intensive Home Supports and Homecare Packages for people with dementia;
  •  the provision of additional dementia-specific resources for GPs, who are the critical and initial point of contact with the health system for those with dementia. The resource material will include training materials and guidance on local services and contact points, etc.
  • Measures to raise public awareness, address stigma, and promote the inclusion and involvement in society of those with dementia.

View The Irish National Dementia Strategy here