The strategy, published by the Irish government, pledges to prioritise end of life care in an appropriate setting for those with dementia, including the rollout of a programme of intensive home supports and homecare packages.
Sharon Foley, chief executive officer of the Irish Hospice Foundation, commented: “We welcome the recognition in the strategy that palliative care is appropriate throughout the course of dementia, and that staff working with dementia patients should have training in the principles of palliative care.
“We also welcome the recommendation in the strategy that people with dementia should be supported to be cared for in their place of choice as far as possible. This is very important given the results of our recent survey which revealed that 74% of people wish to die at home.”
The strategy also aims to increase awareness of dementia, ensure timely diagnosis and intervention, and ensure appropriate training and supervision for all those caring for or providing services to people with dementia.
Speaking at the launch of the Strategy, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny said: “As Taoiseach, I am determined that dementia, or indeed old age, should not rob people of what is so valuable to them: their choice and their control over their lives, their privacy and their dignity.
“Central to the strategy is something that is characteristically taken away from people living with dementia and that is awareness.
“We want to increase awareness of dementia in the community so that we can act faster and smarter to ensure early diagnosis, treatment and that all-important support, particularly with community-based services.”
A National Dementia Strategy Monitoring Group is to be established to monitor progress of the implementation of the strategy, and Ms Foley called for a clear time frame to be set out to enable effective monitoring.
Marie Lynch, head of healthcare programmes at the IHF, said the organisation has to date invested €1.5 million in its Changing Minds Programme which develops resources, training and tool kits for staff and families to support people to live well until the end of life. The programme is also developing dedicated material for people with dementia.
She said the IHF will continue to take a lead role in advocating and supporting the need for dementia palliative care within all health care settings so that people with dementia and their families can live their life with dignity, and receive the quality end of life care already available to those with other life limiting diseases.
Ms Lynch added: “Our Nurses for Night Care programme also offers supports to people with dementia and in 2014 we have seen an increase in the number of patients availing in this service.”