National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE)
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NICE calls for action on dementia care

NICE has today joined forces with charities, royal colleges, public and private sectors in a pledge to transform the quality of life for people living with dementia.

Currently, there are around 750,000 people living with dementia in the UK at a cost of £20bn a year. It is estimated that a million people will have dementia within 15 years, rising to 1.7 million by 2051 as the population ages.

A total of 45 organisations have now united to form the Dementia Action Alliance, set up to bring about radical changes in the way society responds to dementia.

In the first step in a major campaign for change, the Alliance has launched a National Dementia Declaration. This far-reaching charter spells out exactly what each Alliance member plans to do to improve the quality of life for people with dementia in England.

Commitments range from adapting practice to better reflect the needs of people with dementia, increasing dementia-specific training and campaigning for a more prominent place for dementia on the policy and research agendas.

With a combined membership of millions, the promises of these organisations have the potential to reach far and wide.

NICE's main contribution to the Declaration is the development of a quality standard on dementia care, launched by the health secretary Andrew Lansley in June this year.

The dementia quality standard sets out a vision of what high-quality care should look like for dementia patients on the NHS, and is underpinned by the joint NICE/Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) clinical guideline on dementia care and appraisals on medicines relevant to the condition.

The clinical guideline, published in 2006, centres on supporting people with dementia and their careers in health and social care, while the appraisal looks at the use of the drugs Donepezil (Aricept), galantamine (Reminyl), rivastigmine (Exelon) and memantine (Ebixa).

This piece of guidance has recently been updated to offer new hope for hundreds of thousands of patients who are suffering from a mild form of Alzheimer's disease.

Implementing this quality standard will play a major role in responding to the challenge of dementia over the next few years, as quality standards are at the centre of the government's White Paper on liberating the NHS.

Paul Burstow, Care Services Minister, said: “Dementia is more than a health issue, it's one of the defining social challenges of our time. We have to prepare ourselves now for the impact this will have on our society as our population ages.

“This Dementia Declaration shows tremendous commitment from across health and care services and the voluntary sector, to transform services and tackle stigma to make a difference for people with dementia and their families. Willingness to join forces to act should spur more organisations to join this movement for change.”