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A recent survey of GPs illustrates two things: our health and social care system is not properly equipped, and unpaid carers are left to plug the gaps. Anyone who has or had a family member who suffered with dementia will already know this.

Recent initiatives to raise awareness of dementia, such as Dementia Friends, together with an emphasis on diagnosing dementia, have led to greatly improved diagnosis rates. But what happens next?

The problem with the system

The Alzheimer’s Society surveyed 1013 GPs, finding out that half of those surveyed think the NHS is doing too little to care for people living with dementia.

Part of the problem is that dementia care is often viewed as a ‘social’ need, rather than a healthcare need that falls under the remit of the NHS. Our already overburdened health and social services simply cannot cope with the steadily increasing number of those living with dementia who wish to access services. Even where services are available, they are hard to access and difficult to find out about, as they are often provided by numerous different charities or agencies: there is no one point of access for those who wish to find out information.

Unpaid carers cover the cost

This lack of cohesive support means that friends and family are left to pick up the slack where the services fail.

The Alzheimer’s Society commissioned a report which showed the total cost of dementia in Wales in 2013 was £1.4 billion. Around 45,000 people live in Wales with dementia, consequently the average cost of per person per year was £31,300. The report found that two-thirds of the costs are shoulder by carers and families, saying,

“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.”

At Gorvins we have dealt with clients where an adult child has given up their job to move in with an elderly parent with dementia. Children are often forced into this position because they simply cannot see any other way of ensuring their parent gets the care they need and deserve.

Caring for someone with dementia is a full time job, and the impact on the lives of the friends and family members who have to take on this burden can be huge.

The difficulties encountered by those trying to coordinate the care of a family member has led to an increase in the number of clients we find who wish to put Lasting Powers of Attorney for Health & Welfare in place. If an individual already has dementia, it may be too late to prepare a Lasting Power of Attorney.

We find, however, family members are putting Lasting Powers of Attorney for Health & Welfare in place for themselves, in order to make things easier for their own children in the future. This is a wise step when the number of people living with dementia in the UK is expected to increase to over one million by 2021.

How Gorvins can help

More and more people are thinking about their future and putting plans into place. The experienced, STEP qualified solicitors in our Wills, Trust and Probate team can provide you with the expertise to give you and your family peace of mind.

Whether you require more information on writing a will, making a trust or preparing a Lasting Power of Attorney, our team can help you out. You can give Tasoula Crosby a ring on 0343 507 5151 or email an enquiry to actonit@gorvins.com.