Minister for Mental Health and Older People marks World Alzheimer's Day 2023
- Minister Mary Butler marks World Alzheimer’s Day 2023 by announcing over 160 staff are being recruited to support the development of new Memory Services across Ireland.
- World Alzheimer’s Day calls for focus on identifying risk factors to delay and potentially prevent onset of dementia under “never too early, never too late” theme.
- Government has invested over €12 million in dementia services and supports for those living with dementia in 2023.
Minister for Mental Health and Older People Mary Butler is marking World Alzheimer's Day by announcing the recruitment of over 160 staff to support the development of new Memory Services across Ireland for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.
Ten new Memory Assessment and Support Services are being established in Mayo, Sligo, Waterford, Wexford, Cavan/Monaghan, Donegal, Kerry, Limerick, Mullingar and Galway. In each location, multidisciplinary teams consisting of medical, nursing and therapy staff will undertake up to 300 new assessments per year and serve a population of up to 150,000 people.
For more complex cases of dementia, new staff are being recruited to the existing Regional Specialist Memory Clinics in St. James’s Hospital and Tallaght University Hospital in Dublin, while new Regional Specialist Memory Clinics will also open in Cork and Galway. Each will perform 500 new assessments per year and serve a population of 1 million people in each location. The new personnel are being recruited in line with the staffing recommendations set out in the Model of Care for Dementia published earlier this year. An Intellectual Disability Memory Service is already operational at Tallaght University Hospital.
Speaking on World Alzheimer’s Day, Minister Butler, said:
“Establishing these new Memory Services will make sure that there is timely access to both diagnosis and post-diagnostic supports, and a reduction in waiting times. Timely diagnosis is key in the treatment of dementia, and advances in disease-modifying therapies and brain health interventions will be key tools to slow progression of the illness and maintain a person’s quality of life.
“Since becoming Minister for Mental Health and Older People, I have prioritised unprecedented investment in dementia over the past three budgets. This year the Government has invested over €12 million in dementia services and supports to ensure that those living with dementia have access to the right services and supports to help them to live well in their communities. I would like to thank the Alzheimer Society of Ireland who work closely with the HSE (Health Service Executive) on many important dementia initiatives. This relationship has proven to be very productive as evidenced by the increase in necessary dementia-specific supports.
“There are at least 64,000 people living with dementia in Ireland today. It is crucial that the right supports are in place at the right time both before and after diagnosis. World Alzheimer’s Day, and World Alzheimer’s Month of September, provide us with an opportunity to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and to focus on how we can best support people living with dementia and their families in our communities.
“We know the particular importance of day supports for people with dementia and their families and we have provided €2.1 million to ensure that dementia-specific day care can return to full capacity in a post-pandemic environment. In addition, day care at home continues for people with dementia who cannot, or do not wish to, attend a day care centre. Many people with dementia also avail of wider day care services, and in May I was pleased to announce the allocation of €3.5 million to support day care centres throughout the country.
Minister Butler concluded:
“Much has been achieved over the past three years to improve dementia services and supports. It will take time for the new services to embed and achieve their full effect. I am nonetheless aware that families can feel stressed in their caring role and that more needs to be done to support them to live well in their own communities. I am committed, in my role as Minister for Mental Health and Older People, to continue to work to improve dementia care in Ireland, so that people get the care and support they need from diagnosis right through to end of life.”
The Alzheimer Society of Ireland may be reached on its national helpline at 1800 341 341, and at its website: alzheimer.ie
The National Dementia Office’s website includes a range of resources for professionals, family members and people living with dementia.
Notes to editor:
Other new services and initiatives funded over the past three budgets include:
- A national dementia adviser service (28 advisers and a coordinator post), operated through the Alzheimer Society of Ireland. The Advisers provide free and confidential supports and signposting to help connect people with essential services.
- 25 Memory Technology Resource Rooms (MTRRs) countrywide. These provide free occupational therapist assessments and advice on assistive technology to help people adapt to their condition and maintain a degree of independence for as long as possible, while also providing support to family carers.
- Funding for an Assistant Director of Nursing in each hospital group to drive quality improvement, and the recruitment of 18 Clinical Nurse Specialists for dementia to implement a dementia and delirium care pathway in acute hospitals, ensuring a specific focus on the needs of people with dementia in hospital.
- The implementation of a National Clinical Guideline on Psychotropic medication prescribing for non-cognitive symptoms of dementia to reduce inappropriate prescribing of psychotropic and anti-psychotic medications.
- The Dementia Understand Together in Communities initiative to ensure people with dementia are included and supported to remain involved in their communities.
- The rollout of a National Dementia Registry to improve data collection on dementia,
- A HSE home support worker dementia education programme to increase understanding of the needs of people with dementia, leading to care quality improvement.
- The implementation of a Brain Health Programme to address the risk factors associated with dementia. It is estimated that up to 40% of dementias worldwide are preventable. A HSE dementia risk reduction working group published a document entitled “key messages on dementia risk reduction” in 2019. Identified risk factors for dementia include smoking, obesity, diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, depression, social isolation, alcohol etc. National campaigns (such as Quit smoking; askaboutalcohol; mental health campaigns; healthy eating and active living) all help to address the risk factors that are associated with dementia. A brain health project manager post has been funded to implement the actions agreed by the HSE risk reduction working group.
- The Government allocated €5.9 million for the implementation of the National Dementia Strategy in 2021, and a further €7.3 million in 2022. For 2023, €4.86 million has been provided for the National Dementia Strategy and €2.1 million for the resumption to full capacity of dementia-specific day care services. Government has also prioritised home support services so that additional funding secured in Budget 2021 to provide an extra 5 million hours has been maintained in 2022 and 2023. Of these new home support hours, the minimum proportion allocated to people with dementia has trebled from 5% in 2021 to 15% in 2023.
- The Alzheimer Society of Ireland receives €2,780,303 in core funding from the HSE for its national office, helpline and national dementia adviser service. ASI’s in-person dementia day care and day care at home are funded separately.