Map reveals ‘postcode lottery’ of dementia care

Actress Carey Mulligan with Gwen Manton and Vera Main, who both have dementia
Actress Carey Mulligan with Gwen Manton and Vera Main, who both have dementia

Hundreds of dementia sufferers have not had their care reviewed in the past 12 months, according to the Department for Health.

A new “dementia atlas” has been launched by the DfH which gives a picture of the care those diagnosed with the degenerative and debilitating condition receive in each area in a bid to drive improvements.

But campaigners have said the atlas laid bare stark regional disparities in the quality of diagnosis and support on offer and that sufferers faced an “unacceptable postcode lottery of care”.

The map shows that 521 of the 2,353 (22.1 per cent) of sufferers in Wigan have not had their care reviewed in the past 12 months - something that is considered necessary to ensure patients are receiving the right care as their condition progresses.

Wigan also falls behind for the number of dementia sufferers being treated as a hospital inpatient, with 70.08 per cent of people with a diagnosis being admitted each year.

The borough fairs better for the number of emergency admissions, however, with 4830.5 per 100,000 population aged over 65, compared to other areas in the North West where it is as high as 5,000 with others as low as 2,800.

Guidance states that dementia patients should be supported to die in their preferred place of death, but as this information is hard to gather, the atlas includes the percentages of people who have died at their usual place of residence.

The atlas shows that 67.06 per cent of the deaths in the borough with a mention of dementia occurred either in the patient’s home, care home or religious establishment, a total of 230 of 343 people aged over 65.

Dr Tim Dalton, Local GP and Chair of NHS Wigan Borough CCG, said: “With 2,404 people diagnosed with dementia in the borough, improving dementia services continues to be one of our priorities.

“Thanks to the work of our GPs, we are doing better than the national average for identifying and diagnosing patients with dementia.

“However, there is still room for improvement and we are committed to working with our partners on this.

“We want more people to get diagnosed quickly and get the treatment and support they need to live well with dementia. We also want to make sure that people with dementia don’t end up in hospital if it can be helped and that more people can die in the place of their choice.

“To deliver this, we are working with our local and GM partners and have signed up to the Greater Manchester Dementia United programme which aims to make GM the best place in the world for dementia care.”

The release of the atlas coincides with the appointment of actress Carey Mulligan as the first UK Global Dementia Friends Ambassador.

The new role created by the DfH and the Alzheimer’s Society in the hope of renewing focus on the Dementia Friends programme.

The Oscar-nominated actress has long been a supporter of the charity. Her grandmother Margaret, known as “Nans”, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2004.

“My Nans has dementia and I have experienced first-hand how devastating it can be,” Mulligan said.

“It affects everyone differently, and it’s so important that everyone affected by the condition is treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve. At the moment, there’s not nearly enough awareness.”

To view the dementia atlas, visit shapeatlas.net/dementia.