SDLP candidate for Foyle Mark H. Durkan says it’s unacceptable Derry people with dementia are being sent to nursing homes as far away as Omagh.
The local election hopeful said ensuring proper provision for dementia sufferers is a growing issue.
He made the comments after the ‘Journal’ reported on the graduation of a cohort of new ‘Dementia Champions’ at the North West Regional College (NWRC).
Mr. Durkan congratulated the new graduates as well as those reponsible for the design and delivery of the course.
He said: “Dementia is a massive issue in our society today and it is going to be an even bigger issue in the not too distant future, people here are living longer, with the number of sufferers here expected to treble to 60,000 over the next thirty years.
“We need to be ready as a society, we need to be ready as families and we need to be ready as individuals to support those with this difficult and complex condition and to support, educate and inform care providers.
“While much good work is being done, the Western Trust have recently appointed a new support worker, much more is needed.
“I have previously raised the need for greater nursing home provision in this city - it is simply not acceptable that people are being sent from here to beyond Omagh for residential care. This places a huge strain on families already struggling to cope with their loved one’s dementia.
“Residential care is at the far end of the dementia journey but the start of that journey is even more important.
“Early diagnosis is essential as is early advice to families on financial matters to enable them to get their affairs in order so people aren’t faced with losing the home they have worked all their lives to buy to pay for care.”
The SDLP candidate said that proper investment is needed to tackle the biggest problem of this generation.
“It is over five years since the publication of the Dementia Strategy for NI. The strategy itself was fairly sound - but it was not backed up by the relatively minor investment required to maximise its impact.
“I would be keen to see the involvement of all those working in this field in an updated Dementia Strategy and its implementation.
“It is vital that we do all that we can to plan for and address dementia, perhaps the biggest challenge of our generation,” he said.