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  • E-Newsletter - 2 Aug 2019

    E-Newsletter - 2 Aug 2019

    Here is this week’s round-up of dementia care news, stories and comment. This week's topics include new Playlist for Life funding and the economic cost of dementia. It is an editor's selection which we hope you will enjoy.

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  • Emergency services in Scotland sign up to “dementia pledge”

    Emergency services in Scotland sign up to “dementia pledge”

    09.08.19 Scotland’s emergency services have signed a “dementia pledge” which commits them to ensuring that they provide a dementia-friendly service for all those who come into contact with them. It follows the formation of the Dementia and Emergency Services Collaborative, of which Alzheimer Scotland and the University of West of Scotland are part, enabling emergency services to learn more about dementia and how best to respond. Among the commitments in the 2025 dementia pledge are ensuring staff have the necessary knowledge and skills, becoming dementia-friendly employers, more interprofessional working across emergency services and beyond, and supporting development of dementia-friendly communities.

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  • NHS Confederation warns PM of dangers of failing to act on spending

    NHS Confederation warns PM of dangers of failing to act on spending

    08.08.19 Urgent action is needed to fill staff vacancies and address the funding shortfall in social care, the NHS Confederation has told PM Boris Johnson in a letter and briefing. Warning that the NHS funding situation is not yet settled, despite £20.5 billion of extra funding promised by the government, the confederation says the future of the health service depends on additional funding commitments on social care, public health, training budgets and capital spending. “The Prime Minister’s to-do list is full with NHS issues that need solving now: social care is a national disgrace, NHS pension inflexibilities are lengthening waiting times and a lack of capital funding is hampering hospitals trying to improve services for patients,” said confederation chief executive Niall Dickson.

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  • Use of antipsychotics continues to rise

    Use of antipsychotics continues to rise

    08.08.19 An analysis of NHS figures published by the Daily Mail indicates that the use of antipsychotic medications for people with dementia is increasing rather than decreasing in line with government policy. According to the Mail “almost 44,000 dementia patients are being prescribed dangerous ‘chemical cosh’ drugs, which increase the risk of strokes and death.” It published NHS figures showing that 43,678 patients with dementia were taking antipsychotics in March this year compared with 42,038 in April 2018. Alzheimer’s Society is quoted as saying the trend is “incredibly concerning” and that the drugs should never be used as a replacement for care.

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  • Economic cost of dementia is far higher than £26 billion

    Economic cost of dementia is far higher than £26 billion

    07.08.19 Dementia is currently estimated to cost the UK economy £26 billion a year, but a new research review highlighting the hidden costs of dementia suggests that this may only be the “tip of the iceberg”. An international team, including Exeter University and Alzheimer’s Research UK, found that socioeconomic costs such as the cost of health care and reduced quality of life for carers are overlooked in current estimates of losses to the UK economy from dementia. In an article in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (23 July), the team explores hidden costs such as carers developing anxiety or depression, families forced to cut back on spending so as to support their loved ones, and costs incurred before a dementia diagnosis is made.

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  • Music charity gets £1.6m

    Music charity gets £1.6m

    06.08.19 Music and dementia charity Playlist for Life has been awarded £1.6 million by the National Lottery to extend its work across the UK. Playlist for Life, founded by broadcaster Sally Magnusson who observed the positive effect of music on her own mother before she died, says it will use the money to raise awareness of the power of playlists and to expand its grassroots network of community help points to 1,500 across the UK. To celebrate the award the charity says it will be promoting “musical teas” in communities across the country in the run-up to BBC Music Day on 26 September, which will see the launch of an initiative to “help bring music to everyone living with dementia by 2020” (see JDC Newsletter 26 July). Community organisations like churches, libraries and carers’ centres host Playlist for Life help points and are given free training and resources for bringing music to people with dementia.

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  • Green paper puts focus on 'genomics' as key to prevention

    Green paper puts focus on 'genomics' as key to prevention

    02.08.19 The government’s new focus on genomics was accompanied by publication this week of its prevention Green Paper, which hopes that the 2020s will be the decade of “proactive, predictive and personalised prevention.” It puts new technologies like genomics and artificial intelligence centre stage and holds out the prospect that if a child has inherited a rare disease “we might be able to diagnose and start treatment while they are still in the womb, so they are born healthy.” The Green Paper includes dementia as one of the challenges to be confronted over the next decade: “In the 2020s, we need to work towards ‘parity of esteem’ not just for how conditions are treated, but also for how they are prevented.

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  • Disease prediction gets funding to 'unlock solution' to dementia

    Disease prediction gets funding to 'unlock solution' to dementia

    01.08.19 New funding for genetic prediction of diseases in later life will see 5 million volunteers supporting research into the early diagnosis, prevention and treatment of conditions including dementia. Backed by Alzheimer’s Research UK, the Accelerating Detection of Disease (ADD) programme has won £79 million in funding from the government alongside an additional £160 million from businesses and charities. Advances in genomics – scientific understanding of the human genome – will be used to predict which conditions people are most likely to develop before symptoms appear. The ADD programme will help open the way to preventative strategies, personalised treatments and diagnostic tools using artificial intelligence. “Prioritising life-saving research and innovation means we can unlock solutions to headline conditions like cancer, dementia and heart disease – saving lives and securing the health of the next generation,” said health minister Nicola Blackwood.

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  • BBC launches music initiative

    BBC launches music initiative

    31.07.19 “BBC Music Day” in September will include the relaunch of the BBC Music Memories website, which features music clips from the last 100 years to trigger memories. Among the many events on BBC Music Day, scheduled for Thursday 26 September, will be the launch of an initiative to “help bring music to everyone living with dementia by 2020.” It will include what is billed as the first ever music and dementia festival, co-created with people with dementia, and the first NHS “Dementia Village” opening its doors ahead of its official launch. Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK, Alzheimer Scotland and Dementia UK are among more than 50 organisations involved in the initiative. Care sector organisations have been invited by the BBC to host events themed around music and dementia and are asked to make email contact at BBCMusicDay@bbc.co.uk.

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  • Better care could avoid four in 10 emergency admissions to hospital

    Better care could avoid four in 10 emergency admissions to hospital

    30.07.19 Four in 10 emergency hospital admissions from care homes are avoidable and are causing particular stress for people with dementia, the Health Foundation has said. Its analysis found that 41% of emergency admissions from care homes could have been managed, treated or prevented outside the hospital setting if there had been more NHS support and better preventative care. Preventable or treatable conditions like chest infections, pressure sores and urinary tract infections often lay at the root of avoidable emergency admissions, the foundation insisted.

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