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Volume 457: debated on Tuesday 6 March 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps her Department plans to take to extend support offered to carers and relatives of people diagnosed with dementia. (124699)

The Department recognises that carers and relatives of those with dementia have particular needs and concerns and we know that caring for and living with a person with dementia can be very demanding. Carers tell us that easy access to advice and a sympathetic ear are invaluable. We also know the importance that carers of people with dementia place in the availability of short-term care in times of emergency.

Overall, this Government remain committed to supporting all carers and have recently unveiled a package of support for carers, many of whom will be supporting someone with dementia. The package includes £3 million per annum for a telephone helpline for carers and £25 million for the establishment of short-term, respite support in each council to cover crisis or emergency situations.

This is in addition to the existing carers grant which is paid to councils to help them support carers with short breaks and other services. The carers grant is worth £185 million in the current financial year and will be worth the same in 2007-08.

We recognise that the number of older people, particularly those over 85, is expected to rise sharply over the coming years with significant implications for public services and for health and social care in particular. We will assess proposals for the future provision of long-term care services as part of the long term vision of the comprehensive spending review 2007.