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To mark World Alzheimer's Day, Alzheimer Scotland ChiefExecutive Henry Simmons shares a message. You may have spotted an Editor letter in your local paper. Read on to hear from Henry on how we can make sure nobody faces dementia alone:

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day (21 September 2018); a vital chance to consider what we have achieved for people with dementia and carers, and commit to what we must do now and in the years ahead. There are over 90,000 people with dementia in Scotland. It is our country’s most pressing public health issue – one we must address now, collectively, to ensure nobody faces dementia alone. 

Scotland has made important progress, with some of the world’s most progressive dementia policies. Dementia has been a Scottish Government priority since 2007 and the focus of three national strategies since 2010. These strategies have driven the commitment to providing high quality post-diagnostic support, enhancing education and training for health and social care professionals, and improving care in acute hospitals. The strategies were developed in partnership with a wide range of organisations and professionals in health and social care. Crucially, they were also informed through dialogue with people with dementia and carers; supported by Alzheimer Scotland and our two national groups – the Scottish Dementia Working Group (established 2002) and the National Dementia Carers Action Network (2011).

However, there is still an unacceptable gap between Scotland’s dementia policy and practice. Scotland wastes already limited resources in a cycle of expensive crisis care; responding only crises arise when we should be able to stop them happening in the first place. This disempowers health and social care staff and undermines communities as the mainstay of local support. We also fail to give people with dementia and carers the opportunity to shape their support – a human right enshrined in Scotland’s Self-Directed Support Act (2013). 

Delivering much of Scotland’s strategic commitments to dementia care and support sits with Integrated Joint Boards and Health and Social Care Partnerships. Alzheimer Scotland is committed to ensuring the active voice of people with dementia and carers in local decision-making on health and social care. Over the past year, we have held 60 local engagement events and met over 1,000 people across Scotland, discovering how their experiences reflect Scotland’s strategic commitments to dementia at community level. We also support a network of local action groups to engage with decision-makers – working together to shape high quality dementia care and support.

We cannot and should not wait for national achievements in dementia to shape local change. We must work together to deliver the best possible dementia care and support for everyone living with dementia in Scotland. 

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Henry Simmons
Chief Executive, Alzheimer Scotland