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Inequalities in dementia services

Dementia is not a single disease; it is a general term used to describe the deterioration of cognitive functioning. Symptoms differ depending on the type of dementia and can also vary in severity, progressing through multiple stages. They include difficulties with thinking, problem-solving, remembering and making decisions, to the extent that daily activities can become challenging. Some people with dementia may also find it hard to control their emotions and aspects of their personality may change. It can be a life-limiting condition but how long someone with dementia will live for depends on many factors.

There have been numerous Government strategies and NHS commitments to improve dementia diagnosis and services, as well as to increase support for research. The 2019 NHS Long Term Plan committed to offering better support for people with dementia through more support in the community and greater personalised care. Dementia is also expected to be one of the areas covered by the Government’s forthcoming Major Conditions Strategy.

The Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Action Week runs from 13 – 19 May 2024. This year it is focussing on dementia diagnosis and calling on the Government and the NHS to prioritise dementia in policy and decision making.

Dementia charities and a number of other organisations have highlighted inequalities in dementia services, with key factors including local service provision, gender and ethnicity, socio-economic and geographic factors, and associated variation in diagnosis rates.   

This Library briefing provides further background and refers to recent reports on inequalities in dementia by the Care Quality Commission, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia (PDF), and Alzheimer’s Research UK. It also includes references to parliamentary and press material.

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