Dementia strategy welcomed

February 5, 2009

A broad welcome has been given to the government’s new dementia strategy by Nightingale in Clapham, one of Europe’s largest care homes for the elderly.

Nightingale chief executive Leon Smith believes the proposals will help destigmatise the condition. But the strategy “must only be part of the desperately needed review of how long-term care of older people is funded”. This included making symptom-inhibiting drugs such as Aracept freely available on the NHS.

Nightingale has a dedicated dementia unit offering specialist care and facilities. However, Mr Smith estimated that two-thirds of its 200-or-so residents suffer from the condition at some level, figures that are typical for the care sector.

The home has been running a ther-apy programme encouraging dementia sufferers — often at the most severe level — to engage with classical musicians and music, and to communicate with others.

“Remarkably, some residents who had been withdrawn and highly anxious have shown their families and carers glimpses of the person they used to be,” Mr Smith reported.

He questioned why dementia should be considered differently to diabetes, Aids or cancer just because it affected the brain and, predominantly, the elderly. “It is a matter we should all be concerned with because hopefully we are all going to be old.”

Last updated: 11:46am, February 5 2009