The Welsh Government’s Dementia Action Plan has been published at last! We welcome this, along with the additional £10m a year to support improvements. Tide’s response to the consultation on the draft strategy – ‘Together for a Dementia-friendly Wales – in March 2017 was based on what carers told us in a series of engagement events and made the case for carers to be recognised as equal partners in care, with needs of their own, from the very beginning of the dementia journey. Carers are the largest section of the dementia care workforce, saving the Welsh economy £1.4b a year; if they decided to down tools tomorrow, the NHS and social care would collapse!
We are pleased that the action plan acknowledges that ‘support for the carer can help to prevent crisis and help maintain their own physical and mental well-being as well as of the person they care for’ and that government is committed to ensuring the rights of all unpaid carers are enhanced and protected’. So we are disappointed that some opportunities to make this real have been missed – for example, during the process of getting an assessment and a diagnosis. Carers tell us consistently that some GPs will not talk to them about their concerns and fail to recognise them as experts in the care of those they care for. A strong steer from government that this is unacceptable would have been welcome.
You can also read a response from tide member, and former carer, Roy Tindall here. Roy is disappointed that carers are not featured as equal partners in care in the plan and the word ‘bereavement’ features only once. He said:
“I was not inspired. Let’s hope those who are supposed to implement the plan will not file it away on the shelf or do only what the plan describes, but that they go the extra mile to provide proper support to carers and involve them as experts along the way.”
As Roy states, the real work starts now and the implementation of this Plan at a national and local level is key to improving the experiences of people with dementia and their care partners. It is vital that carers, as experts by experience, are recognised, valued and fully involved in the priority setting and decisions about how this additional investment is used for the benefit of the person living with dementia and their carers. Tide will work with our partners to ensure that we strengthen the voice and involvement of carets of people living with dementia at all levels.