MP alarmed by dementia stories

Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery MP with Alzheimer's Society staff Helen Williams, Danielle Cooper and Claire Batey, and people who attended the Listening Event.
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery MP with Alzheimer's Society staff Helen Williams, Danielle Cooper and Claire Batey, and people who attended the Listening Event.

MP Ian Lavery said he is alarmed by problems with dementia care after hearing first-hand accounts from constituents.

The Wansbeck member recently attended a Listening Event at Newbiggin Maritime Centre organised by the Alzheimer’s Society to discuss the access, quality and cost of social care.

And he was shocked to hear about the complexities of accessing benefits.

“This event was a real eye-opener,” he said.

“I learned more about the problems faced by people affected by dementia in two hours than over many years, and whilst I wouldn’t say I was surprised, I was certainly alarmed to hear some quite disturbing stories.

“The UK is the world’s sixth largest economy and, in my view, we should not be charging people affected by dementia for care at all.”

Mr Lavery, whose father-in law had dementia and whose office staff are dementia trained, joined people with the condition, carers and charity workers at the event.

The Alzheimer’s Society hopes to use the accounts to persuade the government to change its forthcoming Green Paper on social care reform.

Key issues highlighted at the event included people not knowing where to access help after diagnosis, a ‘postcode lottery’ of care quality, crippling care costs and difficulty navigating the benefits system.

Mr Lavery said: “I believe it’s a basic human right for people to be cared for properly, but unfortunately that is not always the case.”

He added: “My father-in-law had dementia and all of my staff are dementia trained so I do have some experience of the issues people face. This is part of the reason I am committed to making our communities in Wansbeck as dementia friendly as possible.

“I am looking forward to facilitating and hosting several training sessions in the coming months to ensure that as many local businesses and organisations can be fully accessible to those living with dementia.

“I would like to thank everyone for their honesty. In many ways, it has been awful to hear some of their stories but it’s a reminder that we must continue to fight for justice for those affected.”

There are currently around 850,000 people in the UK affected by dementia, almost 5,000 of them in Northumberland.

Helen Williams, Alzheimer’s Society services manager for Northumberland, said: “We’re very grateful to Mr Lavery for taking the time to attend the Listening Event.

“It’s incredibly important that the voices of people affected by dementia are heard. Only then can we work towards creating a truly integrated health and social care system that meets their needs.”