Dementia Awareness Week 2012: boosting public knowledge between 20 and 26 May


In its annual bid to raise awareness of dementia and how the disease affects patients and their families, the Alzheimer's Society has announced Dementia Awareness Week 2012 for England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

Dementia Couple

Between 20 and 26 May, the society and its co-sponsor Saga Homecare will mount as part of the event its annual Remember the Person campaign: an initiative to encourage broader understanding of dementia and to prompt the public to 'remember the person' behind the disease.

Its seriousness is underscored by the statistics. With some 800,000 people in the UK with dementia, the cost nationally this year will exceed £23 billion. By 2021 there are likely to be more than 1 million sufferers, while 60,000 deaths per year are directly attributable to the disease.

It should also be noted that 64% of people living in care homes have a form of dementia, while family carers of dementia sufferers save the UK over £8 billion a year.

Yet if someone is diagnosed with dementia, the biggest problem normally facing the sufferer's family is finding the money to meet the costs of that care: a matter of great concern to the Alzheimer's Society.

Since the disease affects mental faculties, a person with dementia will have at best only limited ability to manage their own basic care, with virtually no coherent control over their own financial affairs.

NHS continuing care funding or fully-funded NHS care is awarded according to whether or not a patient's primary need is a health need. The funding can be made available for a person who is being cared for in a care home or a nursing home, or even in their own home.

Some dementia sufferers whose needs are complex might be entitled to NHS continuing care funding. As this is free and not means-tested, such patients receive the full cost of their care needs.

Because of the government's recent announcement of a deadline for retrospective unassessed periods of care fees, it is crucial to ensure that if a dementia sufferer remains unassessed, a timely request for NHS funding is made to the relevant Primary Care Trust (PCT).

If despite assessment sufferers are still not funded, they are entitled to appeal. The PCT will normally advise the family of its decision and the deadline within which any appeal can be lodged.

Since the introduction of the National Framework in October 2007, increasing numbers of dementia sufferers are qualifying for NHS funding. However, with current statistics showing that some 41% of the population who need care are funding the costs from their savings or even by selling their homes, it is clear that many remain unaware of what they are actually entitled to claim.

This is among the shortfalls in public knowledge which Dementia Awareness Week seeks to rectify, with the support of committed partners such as Simpson Millar LLP.

Simpson Millar LLP has many years' experience of helping people who suffer from dementia and their families. If you believe you are being denied NHS continuing care funding to which you are entitled, or if you just need simple, friendly advice on behalf of a friend or a loved one, please contact us on 0345 357 9000.

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