The Irish Government could halve the costs associated with dementia care and improve sufferers’ lives by supporting them to live at home, according to the Alzheimer Society of Ireland [ASI].
Dementia is one of the most significant health and social care challenges facing the country with 48,000 people living with the condition, a figure expected to treble in a generation.
An expert policy paper commissioned by the ASI has revealed that home care versus long-term residential care results in better quality of life for the person with dementia at approximately half of the cost. The paper has revealed that the average European cost to care for a person with dementia in a residential setting is €4,491 per month, compared to €2,491 for home care.
However, supports in Ireland for people with dementia who wish to live at home for as long as possible are patchy, uncoordinated or simply non-existent. Of the overall cost of dementia in Ireland, €1.69 billion per annum, almost half is attributable to informal care provided by family carers to people with dementia living at home.
A further 43 per cent is accounted for by residential long-stay care, while formal health and social care provision, linked mainly to primary and community care, comprises a paltry 9 per cent of the total cost of dementia. As 63 per cent of people with dementia live in the community, the ASI says the Government must act now to afford these people with the basic human right of living in their own homes and communities for as long as possible.
Launching its pre-Budget submission, the ASI has called on the Government to focus investment on home-based and community long-term care; provide funding for intensive, dementia-specific home care supports to all Local Health Office [LHO] areas at a cost of €30.2m; increase funding to the ASI by €2.1m per annum; fund a national dementia adviser service at a cost of €1.56 million; fund dementia case workers in each LHO area at a cost of €1.92m.
The ASI believes the provision of these vital resources would not only greatly enhance the lives of people living with dementia and their 50,000 family carers, but could significantly slash the cost of dementia care.