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Dementia Care: Social Care Workforce

Volume 716: debated on Tuesday 14 June 2022

5. What steps he is taking to help ensure that training for the social care workforce meets the needs of people living with dementia. (900466)

It is crucial that the health and social care workforce have the necessary skills to provide high- quality care for those living with dementia. As announced in the White Paper, we will invest £500 million in training, and we will work with social care staff to co-produce a knowledge and skills framework to include the dementia training standards framework. Later this year, we will set out our plans on dementia for England for the next 10 years, which will include plans for dementia training.

People with dementia deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. There are ways to enable people living with dementia to live the lives they want to lead and that is what the inquiry by the all-party parliamentary group on dementia is investigating right now. Will the Secretary of State commit to attending the APPG’s inquiry report launch in September to hear how that can be achieved? Most importantly, will he commit to taking on board its recommendations? Families of people with dementia feel they are neglected and not getting the attention they need. I urge him to attend the launch of the report.

I completely agree with the hon. Lady that we, of course, must treat all those living with dementia—and all those caring for people with dementia, which is a lot of people in the country—with respect and do everything we can to support them. That is why we will, as I say, be setting out our plans for dementia in England for the next 10 years and why the Secretary of State mentioned dementia in a speech very recently. I will personally commit to attending the APPG. I am very happy to work with her on this issue to understand what more we could be doing and what more we can do to inform the 10-year plan for dementia in England.

I am really grateful to my hon. Friend for her commitment to train social care staff in dementia. Timely and accurate diagnosis is really important to ensuring that people living with dementia get on the right care and support pathway. A lot of my constituents are still struggling to get the face-to-face appointments that are so crucial in that. What is she doing to ensure that GPs in my local area are equipped to recruit, train and be resourced to get early diagnosis in place for people?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. We had been meeting our dementia diagnosis target consistently at the national level from July 2016 until the end of March 2020, when, obviously, we all know what happened. The diagnosis rate dropped below our target for the first time in almost four years, and reflects the impact the pandemic had on memory assessment services and GP referrals into those services. In the last financial year, we allocated £17 million to specifically address dementia waiting lists and increase the number of diagnoses. That was spent in a range of ways, including on investing in workforce to increase capacity in memory assessment services and on improving access to pre and post-diagnostic support and carer support.

Quality care for our loved ones depends on a well-trained and motivated care force. I think we can all agree on that, and I commend the work of the all-party group. I hear the words of the Minister, but we have had a lot of warm words about a dementia strategy and the promise of a clear date. Can she be more specific about a date for publication, and can she be clearer about the workforce plan, including training for staff, given the Government’s rejection of all workforce amendments to the Health and Social Care Levy Act 2021? We cannot give confidence to people suffering with dementia and their carers without a much clearer plan that is in place very quickly.

I assure the hon. Lady that there is a lot of work happening on workforce across the whole of our health and social care services, whether in mental or physical health. Health Education England is working on the matter now and will publish a framework shortly. The workforce strategy set out in our White Paper is just the beginning. We will work closely with adult social care leaders and staff, and the people who draw on that care and support, to implement it now, and to take forward and build on those policies now and in the future. There is a lot of work, and we are serious about it; the hon. Lady can look forward to seeing a lot of documents before the end of the year.