What next for people affected by dementia in Northern Ireland?

People living with dementia in Northern Ireland are becoming increasingly concerned about the future of dementia care and service provision in Northern Ireland.

A body set up in 2014 to implement the key aims of Northern Ireland’s first dementia strategy is due to be abolished in March 2018 and there is no suggestion of additional funding being made available for dementia services beyond this date. Dementia Together NI was tasked with raising awareness of dementia; improving access to information for people with the illness; delivering training to health professionals, and supporting carers.

Investigative journalism website The Detail has today reported that Stormont officials are due to return an estimated £1 million of unspent funding which was originally earmarked for dementia. Some of this will go to philanthropic organisation Atlantic Philanthropies while the rest will be spent by government elsewhere. The original investment into improving dementia care, which came from Stormont’s Delivering Social Change programme, was £6.25 million but officials now think they will only spend around £5 million. The 2011 regional dementia strategy really only got off the ground when the Delivering Social Change money was made available in 2014. See previous article by The Detail here:

In an already uncertain climate, Dementia NI members are now asking what next for the future of their services and support provided to themselves and others living with dementia in Northern Ireland. 

Dementia NI member Allison Batchelor, who lives with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, explains her experience of receiving her diagnosis and the importance of Training for Informal Caregivers which was one of the projects to be developed and funded under the Delivering Social Change Dementia Together NI programme:

“My diagnosis was like the beginning of the end and I felt very low, that I had little more to offer. Before my husband received the training for caregivers, I felt that he tended to take over and disempower me. I feel that this training has made him realise that he had to allow me to do things for myself and allow me to take risks like any other person. To be more in the background when he might have stepped in, and not do things for me and take away my abilities. I already had very low confidence following my diagnosis but, now that he has taken a more backward step, I feel that it has helped my confidence grow because I can see that I am still capable of doing things for myself. For me, my involvement in Dementia NI has reinforced the training that Tom has received. Dementia NI echo the importance of remaining independent and encourage people with dementia to play an active role in society. The biggest change in me has been brought about by my involvement in Dementia NI. Since I joined, Tom tells me he can see an increased level of confidence, a desire to be active and to now go out and get involved in things. Dementia NI was the start of moving on and the beginning of me getting a degree of life back again that had some sort of value.”    

Tara Collins is Programme Manager of Dementia NI which supports people with the condition. She told The Detail:

“Our members feel to date that the work done has only scratched the surface and there are still many gaps that need to be addressed. We are thankful for this project and will be disappointed when it comes to an end. We also wonder why all the money that was originally planned to be invested into dementia services through this project is not being spent on dementia. Why is this £1 million under-spend going towards other services when it was meant to be spent on dementia? It’s disappointing this money is not being used to extend the life of the dementia programme.”

The Detail article, published today, can be found at: http://www.thedetail.tv/articles/concern-as-dementia-funding-in-northern-ireland-to-be-used-on-other-departmental-priorities

To hear from those directly affected and who are living with dementia, please contact Dementia NI on 02890 686768 or email ashleigh@dementiani.org

Picture credit for photos go to The Detail. Pictured are Dementia NI member Allison Batchelor with husband Tom.

Please help people living with dementia in Northern Ireland this Christmas.

Through peer support, raising awareness to challenge the stigma, and enabling all those who are living with dementia to access appropriate services, Dementia NI will continue to reach out and support more people living with dementia across Northern Ireland throughout their journey.

If you know someone recently diagnosed with dementia, please inform them of the Dementia NI groups which meet throughout Northern Ireland. To make a Christmas donation please contact Dementia NI on Tel: 028 90 686768 or Email: info@dementiani.org, go to our JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/dementia-ni
Cheques made payable to Dementia NI can be sent to 54 Elmwood Avenue, Belfast, BT9 6AZ.
*Please do not send cash in the post.*