Thanks to improved lifestyles and increased healthcare, people in Ireland are living longer lives. An estimated 55,000 people in Ireland have a form of dementia, and this figure is expected to nearly treble to 150,000 by 2046. While the majority of people with dementia are aged over 65, it is important to remember that one in ten people diagnosed with dementia are under 65.
As a response to the increasing number of people with dementia, the Irish National Dementia Strategy was launched in December 2014. The Strategy aims to improve dementia care to allow people with dementia to live well for as long as possible and have services and supports delivered as well as possible. My Department and the HSE are working on a review of the implementation of the National Dementia Strategy which will be published in the first quarter of 2018 and will identify what has been achieved so far and set out the further work that is required to implement the Strategy. The work on the review will feed into the estimates process for 2019 and subsequent years.
In parallel with the Strategy, the National Dementia Strategy Implementation Programme (NDSIP) was set up by the Department of Health, the HSE and Atlantic Philanthropies. €27.5 million was committed to the Programme for a three year period across a number of initiatives, including dementia specific intensive home care packages, an education and training programme for GPs and Primary Care Teams, and an information and awareness campaign which seeks to challenge public misconceptions about dementia and the challenges facing people living with dementia. My Department and the HSE have committed to maintaining the NDSIP structures and oversight arrangements for at least a period of 5 years up to the end of 2019.
In the medium term, the HSE plans to create compassionate, inclusive communities for people with dementia and their carers, by building a network of local and national partnerships under the Dementia Understand Together campaign. Plans are progressing to further implement The Irish National Dementia Strategy, 2014 through the National Dementia Office and The National Carers’ Strategy, 2012 .
In 2017, my Department secured €1.23 million in Dormant Accounts funding to develop a number of projects which are designed to expand public awareness of dementia and to improve care for people with dementia. These projects include a national post-diagnostic support pathway, a national dementia registry, and the staffing of assistive technology libraries in all CHOs.
The Government is committed to ensuring that people with dementia continue to live their lives as fully as possible, in their own homes and communities for as long as they can. We are committed to supporting the work of the National Dementia Office in creating meaningful projects which will have a lasting positive effect on the lives of people with dementia, their carers and families.