Following the recent launch of the West Sussex Joint Dementia Strategy 2020-2023, the Worthing Dementia Action Alliance has sent an open letter to Mrs Amanda Jupp, Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, West Sussex County Council.
The letter, signed by the Chairman of Worthing Dementia Action Alliance, Cllr Bob Smytherman, reads as follows:
The Alliance is keen to do its best to actively support the Dementia Strategy but members of the Alliance’s Steering Group, including those who were able to attend the launch, have a number of concerns about some aspects of the Strategy. Those who attended were very disappointed that there was no real opportunity to ask questions of either Irene Loft or Tracey Wooldridge after their powerpoint presentation and so I have been asked by the Steering Group to forward a list of questions to you and hope that you will be able to respond.
Unfortunately, although the launch of the Strategy on 28 August was supposed to be a public launch, it did not appear to reach many of those people who will be most affected by it and so we propose to publish the Strategy on our website. We will also include this letter and the attached questions and will of course also publish your response. We feel this is necessary so that people living with dementia, their families and carers can see how the West Sussex Joint Dementia Strategy will affect/benefit them.
I look forward to receiving your reply.
QUESTIONS RE JOINT DEMENTIA STRATEGY 2020-2023
We are concerned that the Dementia Strategy launched in August hasn’t been amended in any way to take into account the COVID restrictions the government expect to be implemented. It is obvious that some restrictions will be with us for the foreseeable future so why does the Strategy not reflect this? Furthermore, how will the cost of the COVID pandemic/restrictions impact on the WSCC Vision within the overall Strategy especially with regard to the level of support that the Strategy indicates will be available to both those living with dementia and their family/friend carers?
With regard to the current version of the Strategy the questions are:
1. With regard to ‘Diagnosing Well’ there is a lot of anecdotal evidence of people being seen by a GP and referred for a scan before COVID who have just been left high and dry:
- how does that fit in with your Strategy commitment of diagnosing well?
- How and when are these people going to be assessed and cared for?
- What changes will you have to make to your Strategy to cope with the ongoing COVID restraints and how will that impact of the diagnosis of dementia”
- Is it true that diagnosis will be carried out ‘virtually?’
2. The Strategy includes provision for ‘Supporting Well’ those living with dementia and their carers:
- WSCC have indicated that the appointment of Admiral Nurses is still under review but isn’t now a pertinent time for Admiral Nurses to be funded in West Sussex when so many families and carers are at crisis point?
3. With regard to the Strategy for ‘Living Well’:
- How is WSCC proposing to fund their commitments for tailored care/support for those living with dementia?
- Are they assuming that in order to cope with the high cost of such a commitment they will be able to call upon the voluntary sector and organisations such as the Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia UK and the DAAs to pick up a lot of this ‘living well’ support?
4. The Strategy mentions a commitment to supporting people in meaningful activities:
- With Many day-care facilities and respite provisions in the Worthing area either having closed permanently or running at 50% capacity, how is WSCC planning to meet its Strategy commitment to both those living with dementia and their family/friend carers many of whom require access to much needed respite?
5. The Strategy states that people should be supported in ‘dying well’.
- How does WSCC envisage the Strategy realistically supporting those in care homes to die well (and also their family/friend carers) whilst there are severe restrictions to both access to the homes and visiting loved ones in some establishments?
6. If the launch of the Strategy in August was a public launch it didn’t appear to be very public.
- How will those living with dementia, their families and carers be made aware of the Strategy and understand what services are supposed to be available to them and, more importantly how they access them?
7. Finally, is the WSCC planning to support financially the local Dementia Action Alliances so that they are able to continue with their vital role in making communities dementia friendly. Or is that not part of the Strategy?