PM outlines dementia support plan

David Cameron wants a million members of the public to support dementia sufferers

David Cameron wants a million members of the public to support dementia sufferers

First published in National News © by

The Prime Minister is calling on a million members of the public to provide support for dementia sufferers.

David Cameron has set out his ambitious plan to create masses of "dementia friends" who will be able to spot the signs of the condition and offer support for sufferers.

Mr Cameron, who says that tackling dementia is a "personal priority" of his, hopes that one million people will sign up to receive coaching sessions by 2015. The sessions, which will be provided in church halls and workplaces, will help to raise awareness and teach people how to support those with the condition.

He said: "Through the Dementia Friends project we will for the first time make sure a million people know how to spot those tell-tale signs and provide support. There is still a long way to go in fighting the disease but together we can improve the lives of millions. There are 800,000 people living with dementia in the UK and the number is expected to rise significantly with the ageing population."

Mr Cameron also announced that the Government will be giving almost £10 million for dementia research and £50 million to make wards and care homes more comfortable for people with dementia. He also announced other initiatives to boost early diagnosis and help the public to better understand the condition.

Dr Eric Karran, director of research at Alzheimer's Research UK said: "At a cost of £23 billion a year to the UK economy, we all agree that dementia is not a problem we can ignore. Finding treatments for Alzheimer's and other dementias is no easy task, but it's one we must tackle if we are to make a real difference to people's lives."

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "Too many people with dementia feel cut off, lonely and fearful without the support and understanding they need. We need to build a society where people can live well with dementia, enjoying the best possible quality of life for as long as possible. I want Britain to be one of the best places to be for dementia care."

Mr Hunt told Daybreak it was important to remove the taboo around dementia, saying the issue is "where cancer was in the 1960s" with people not wanting to talk about it. Mr Hunt stressed early diagnosis was important to dealing with the condition and improving patients' quality of life.

Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society, said: "Day to day tasks such as going to the shop or catching a bus can become increasingly difficult for people with dementia. Without a helping hand, this can mean people are left feeling isolated, unable to be part of their community and in some cases even unable to continue living at home. Dementia Friends is our latest and most ambitious answer to how we can change this picture."

To register interest in taking part in the local sessions, visit dementiafriends.org.uk or text Friend to 88080.

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