Inequalities in Dementia Services — [Christina Rees in the Chair]

Part of Backbench Business – in Westminster Hall at 12:50 pm on 16 May 2024.

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Photo of Holly Lynch Holly Lynch Opposition Deputy Chief Whip (Commons) 12:50, 16 May 2024

The hon. Member is absolutely right. We have got into the real substance of the inconsistencies and the variations in rates of diagnosis. That really does highlight the inequalities that exist, depending on where someone is in the country. Beyond that, there is a real mix: there are so many local volunteers and brilliant groups that do so much good work, but that is not replicated evenly across the country. The hon. Member is quite right that the difference that some of the groups he mentioned make is transformative and a lifeline, not only for those living with dementia but for their families and carers—especially if those pop-up cafés and services are anything like the Memory Lane Café in Sowerby Bridge. He speaks of what great places they are to visit and be a part of. There is not that sadness; there is a shared sense of supporting each other, with lots of activities and lots of fun being had as well. That makes a really big difference to people’s lives, and the hon. Member is quite right that, with a little local authority and Government support, that could be replicated and enhanced and more people could be supported. The hon. Member makes a really important point.

In addition to the Memory Lane Café, we have a young-onset dementia and Alzheimer’s group set up by Julie Hayden, which provides support for younger people with dementia and for their carers. I know that is very much valued, especially by those of working age who have been diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s really quite early in life. I also pay tribute to Inspector Neil Taylor of West Yorkshire police, who is the chair of Dementia Friendly Todmorden and a Dementia Friends ambassador. He has worked so hard to promote best practice within West Yorkshire police, establishing the Herbert protocol, whereby the police and other agencies encourage families and carers to complete a form with useful information that could be used in the event of a vulnerable person going missing. The protocol takes its name from George Herbert—a veteran of the Normandy landings who lived with dementia. I am grateful to those people and to the others who make such a big difference. As we have said, they are all volunteers— they are unpaid—and that speaks to the very point of the debate.

The provision of services is still uneven, and families and individuals who need to make use of services will find that that provision can vary significantly. They are local heroes and I am so grateful for all that they do. I look forward to the Minister’s response and, once again, I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Oldham East and Saddleworth not only for securing this debate but for all that she does.