190,000 New ‘Dementia Friends’ At M&S, Argos, Homebase, Lloyds Bank And Lloyds Pharmacy

·       £90m package to improve dementia diagnosis

·       Prime Minister appoints World Dementia Envoy

Following December’s G8 summit, the UK continues to lead the world in the fight against dementia with a £90 million package to improve dementia diagnosis and care and the appointment of a World Dementia Envoy to raise funds for research towards a cure. Leading British businesses have also signed up to the cause with over 190,000 staff at M&S, Argos, Homebase, Lloyds Bank and Lloyds Pharmacy to learn to support customers who have dementia.

Following the ambition set out as part of the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia, NHS England will invest £90 million in diagnosing two thirds of people with dementia by March 2015. As part of this, NHS England will work with local areas where we know that in some it takes up to 25 weeks to carry out diagnostic assessments whereas in others the wait is as little as six weeks on average.

As well as improving diagnosis, the GP Contract that the Health Secretary recently negotiated will mean that from April, every person over 75 will have a named accountable GP and the most vulnerable two per cent in each practice will receive an enhanced service including same day telephone consultations and proactive case management. People diagnosed with dementia and their carers will also be able to sign up to a new service on the NHS Choices website to get essential help and advice in the early stages of their condition.

From April 2015, councils and the NHS will get £3.8 billion in the Better Care Fund to work with each other and the voluntary sector and it is expected that local areas will use some of this to improve care for people with dementia, such as providing access to dementia advisors, reminiscence services and counselling. The best areas already do this and the Health Secretary is asking Health and Wellbeing Boards to make this a reality across the country. In some areas:

  • Dementia Advisors are available to support those with dementia and their families – someone who they and their family can get to know, who knows the local services and who is there for them every step of the way to give them expert information and advice and help them to manage their condition.
  • ‘Reminiscence care’, such as memory boxes filled with personal items from someone’s past or time spent listening or dancing to music they remember to help keep their memories alive, is already playing a key part in excellent care.
  • Counselling is offered, not just to someone diagnosed with dementia, but also to their family or carers, to help them adjust to this life-changing news and prepare for the challenges that will lie ahead.

Evidence shows that in France, more GPs spot the early signs of Alzheimer’s disease than friends and family – in stark contrast to the UK. To talk to them about how this has been achieved and their plans for faster diagnosis, the Health Secretary travelled to France yesterday (Thursday) to see a leading Brain and Spine Institute and to exchange information and views with French dementia experts and the Health Minister Madame Marisol Touraine.

In addition, four major British businesses have all pledged staff to become ‘Dementia Friends’. Sixty thousand staff at Marks & Spencer, 70,000 Lloyds Pharmacy employees, 50,000 staff at Home Retail Group – which owns Argos and Homebase – and 11,500 customer facing staff at Lloyds Bank will learn to understand what dementia is, how it can affect a person’s ability to do day to day things and how they can help make a difference. On top of the 60,000 people who have already signed up to the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends programme, this will bring the total number of Dementia Friends to over 250,000.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:

Dementia can be a horrific and heartbreaking disease, but it is my mission as Health Secretary to make this country the best place in the world to get a dementia diagnosis, as well as a global leader in the fight to find a cure. Today’s package is about government, clinicians, business, society and investors coming together to raise our game on every front – from speedy diagnosis to compassionate care, and from help on our high streets to the quest for a cure.

To have variation in diagnosis rates from a few weeks to close to six months is totally unacceptable and I am pleased that the NHS England have agreed to address this within the funding they have available.

Alistair Burns, NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Dementia, said:

Getting a diagnosis of dementia means that the patient can start getting the right treatment, care and support that they and their carers need – so the quicker the assessment happens, the better. That’s why we are helping the NHS to work out the number of people with dementia in their local area, working with those areas taking the longest time to assess their patients and giving them the support to improve so that people waiting for dementia assessments get them in an average of six weeks.

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said:

It is unacceptable that some people with dementia have to wait months to get a diagnosis. Today’s announcement is a positive step forward to increasing diagnosis rates and ensuring that no matter where you live you will receive a timely assessment.

Too often we hear about a lack of suitable services available to people with dementia and their carers. We welcome the focus on post-diagnosis support which will provide a vital life-line to thousands who are currently left in the dark, with nowhere to turn for advice or support. Everyone with dementia should have the opportunity to access a dementia advisor – someone who can focus on their needs throughout their journey with dementia.

Many people with dementia tell us that shopping and visiting their local high street can be stressful. We applaud Argos, Homebase, Marks & Spencer, Lloyds Banking Group and Lloyds Pharmacy on their commitment to help their staff understand more about dementia. By joining the tens of thousands of Dementia Friends already in local communities, they are playing their part in supporting people with dementia.

Sacha Berendji, Marks & Spencer Retail Director said:

When we heard that a quarter of all people with dementia feel that they can no longer go shopping, despite it being the local activity that they enjoy most, we knew that M&S had to play a part in changing this for the better. We want our stores to be friendly, safe environments for customers with dementia. That’s why we will be empowering all 60,000 of our store colleagues to become Dementia Friends over the course of the year.

Terry Duddy, CEO of Home Retail Group which owns Argos and Homebase, said:

Argos and Homebase have shown real passion in driving forward change for people with dementia. We are offering all of our 50,000 colleagues the opportunity to become Dementia Friends. Already over 200 colleagues have taken part in the programme. Colleagues say this has made a real difference to them personally and that they will be in a better position to understand customers and their carers who have been affected by dementia.

Cormac Tobin, Managing Director of Celesio UK, said:

We believe in helping people live more positive lives and we’re always looking for innovative ways in which we can support our customers. Being part of the Dementia Friends program is fantastic, and allows us to provide the relevant information to our pharmacy teams so they can better support those living with this condition. We hope the program will prove to be of great benefit to our customers and their families and we look forward to introducing it to our network of pharmacies.

Alongside this, the Health Secretary announced that, following the landmark agreement between the G8 countries following a summit in London in December, Dr Dennis Gillings, CBE, Ph.D., who has over 30 years of experience of drug development, applications and theory has been appointed by the Prime Minister as the World Dementia Envoy. He plans to create a World Dementia Council to stimulate innovation, development and commercialisation of life enhancing drugs, treatments and care for people with dementia, and in protection of those at risk of dementia, within a generation.

World Dementia Envoy Dr Dennis Gillings, CBE, Ph.D., said:

The need to develop new ways for managing dementia has never been greater. I hope that my understanding of the underlying science together with my intimate knowledge of the healthcare development process will help us make a real difference. We know that it costs money to develop new treatments and interventions and through the development of an investment fund we can explore and promote new investment models in dementia innovation.

The Health Secretary added:

Dennis has an outstanding background of more than 30 years of experience as a scientist and in business. He understands the importance of innovation and investment to develop new medicines and treatments and we are delighted to announce that he will lead the World Dementia Council.

Dr Margaret Chan, Director General of the World Health Organisation said:

Dementia is a costly and heart-breaking epidemic with an immense impact. I can think of no other condition that has such a profound effect on loss of function, loss of independence, and the need for care – care that is immensely challenging, physically, psychologically, and financially. We need to accelerate research for new interventions, to find ways to improve the quality of life and care, and to do more to support caregivers and families. I welcome the appointment of Dr Gillings to draw the world’s attention to these critical issues.

Marisol Touraine, French Minister of Social Affairs and Health and Geneviève Fioraso French Minister of Higher Education and Research, said:

December 11, 2013, the G8 members emphasized the pivotal role of international mobilization to defeat dementia.

We acknowledge, today, the appointment of the envoy to the global action against dementia. This is understood as the first step in the process, and we wish all the best to Dennis Gillings.

The next step is now to work collectively on the international action plan setting. France has been a key player since 2001, when French government led a proactive research policy and a sound public health on dementia. Capitalizing on the French Aviesan alliance and on the JPDN, is positively shaping up this action plan.

France commitment next will result in the statement of a legacy workshop, due in September 2014, that we will co-lead with Canada on the public-private partnerships theme.

We wish that the work continues in the successful collaborative spirit which characterized the G8.

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said:

We are delighted that Dr Dennis Gillings CBE will champion dementia globally. The creation of a World Dementia Council will enhance and stimulate innovation. By sharing our knowledge and understanding of the disease we help to ensure a sustained global focus and investment in dementia research.

Under his leadership, by bringing together our best scientists, clinicians and researchers with those from across the globe we will speed up progress towards that all important cure.

Deputy Secretary-General of the OECD, Yves Leterme, said:

The OECD welcomes the UK decision to appoint a World Dementia Envoy and looks forward to working with him. We urgently need to modernize the innovation model in health in order to accelerate innovation in dementia prevention and care. We hope that through our combined efforts we will be able to better deal with the human, social and economic cost of dementia.

Executive Director of Alzheimer’s Disease International, Marc Wortmann, said:

Millions of families worldwide are hit by Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias and as long as there is nothing to prevent or cure these diseases, the numbers are increasing rapidly. Currently there is one new case of dementia every four seconds in the world. On behalf of Alzheimer’s Disease International, I welcome the appointment of the Envoy as a very important step to gain more attention from governments, policy makers, private sector and philanthropists to find solutions that people are waiting for urgently.

The Chair of the United States’ Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services, Dr. Ronald Petersen, said:

It is wonderful to see such quick implementation of the ambitious steps laid out during the December G8 Summit on Dementia. This is an area ripe for partnerships between the public and private sectors. The Envoy will be able to stimulate those crucial partnerships, as well as innovation.

Acting Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Rima Cohen, said:

The U.S. looks forward to continuing our collaboration with our UK colleagues as well as a new relationship with (the Envoy) as we work together to tackle Alzheimer’s disease.

And from 28 February people diagnosed with dementia will be able to sign up to a new information and webchat service on the NHS Choices website to get essential help and advice in the early stages of their condition.



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