A new report, The hidden cost of dementia in Wales commissioned by Alzheimer’s Society, exposes the financial and human costs of dementia to society in Wales. It estimates that in 2013 the total cost of dementia in Wales was £1.4 billion, an average cost of £31,300 per person per year.
This report follows Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia UK report released last year and was written and researched by the London School of Economics. The hidden cost of dementia in Wales is the first of its kind to give an analysis of the economic impact dementia has on Welsh society and will be the subject of a panel discussion; ‘Can Wales afford to ignore Dementia?’, to take place on Tuesday 14 July at the National Assembly for Wales.
Sue Phelps, Director of Alzheimer’s Society in Wales said:
‘There are 45,000 people living with dementia in Wales. The report estimates the financial cost of dementia in Wales is £1.4 billion, which is nearly a quarter of the health and social care spend by the Welsh Government each year.
‘Dementia is life-changing for people living with the disease and for those who support them. This report found that people with dementia, carers and their families currently shoulder around two-thirds of the costs themselves. This amounts to £298 million for private social care, and equivalent to £622 million in providing unpaid care to people with dementia.
‘Their sacrifice and support is integral to how we care for people living with dementia, however, it is not fair or sustainable that carers continue to foot the bill. With an ageing population, the number of people with dementia is set to grow, so too will the costs – there needs to be ongoing collaboration in how we approach caring for people with dementia in order for Wales to fulfil its ambition in becoming a truly dementia-friendly nation.’
Susan Hulme was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s Disease at 59. She is a media volunteer who regularly attends the Alzheimer’s Society in Carmarthen and has a befriender who she meets twice a month:
‘I was in full time employment, earning good money with a company car and now I rely on benefits, which has been a real struggle in terms of getting access to support. My husband works so we are now reliant on his salary to pay the mortgage and bills which is a real strain.
‘I get confused sometimes with money and was forgetting to pay bills so my husband had to take over. After three years without a diagnosis, it’s come as a real shock as I thought I would be working until retirement.’
Key findings of the report indicate:
£196 million spent on healthcare costs – these costs are particularly high for people with severe dementia living in the community, and those with moderate or severe dementia living in care homes
£535 million spent on social care costs (publicly and privately funded), social care costs are nearly three times that of healthcare
£622 million is contributed by the work of unpaid carers of people with dementia
£6 million is spent on other costs include police costs including missing person enquiries, advocacy and research
Sue Phelps continued:
‘The findings of this report reinforce the need to have a National Dementia Strategy for Wales to underpin the existing vision in setting out how we will manage what is becoming a growing issue in Welsh society.’
Sarah Rochira, Older Person’s Commissioner for Wales said of the findings:
‘I welcome the publication of this report, as it not only makes clear the significant financial costs of dementia to the public purse, but also the personal costs faced by many individuals.
‘As the number of people in Wales with dementia continues to grow, it is essential that the right support is available and that we create communities that are truly dementia-supportive so that people can live well with dementia, essential to mitigate some of the costs that are highlighted by the report.’