ResPublica responds to Government’s Dementia Campaign

The following is a statement released by Respublica in response to the Government's announcement of a 'dementia friends' scheme.

Last week, the Prime Minister announced plans to recruit 1 million volunteer 'Dementia Friends', capable of supporting people with the condition in their communities, wards and care homes. The scheme is part of a package of measures to boost early diagnosis, to make wards and care homes more comfortable for people with dementia, and to help the public better understand the condition.

David Cameron said, "Through the Dementia Friends project, we will for the first time make sure a million people know how to spot those telltale signs and provide support. There is still a long way to go in fighting the disease, but together we can improve the lives of millions."

"Members of the public will be educated in local sessions, church halls and work places to become 'Dementia Friends'", Number 10 said. "They may be a friend, a family member, or someone the sufferer has met through work."

The role of personal connections and relationships in approaches to social care is a central concern of ResPublica's forthcoming project, 'Micro, Mutual and Personal: Relational approaches for a new care and support system'which will explore the potential for families, communities and social care providers to play a greater role in supporting recipients of social care. It will also, crucially, highlight instances from across the country where those with social care needs have become active entrepreneurs and community catalysts to promote their own wellbeing and that of those around them.   

ResPublica welcomes David Cameron's announcement, but argues that a more 'asset-based' approach to Dementia Care, which draws on the existing and potential skills and contributions of individuals, families and communities, could open up a range of opportunities for innovation throughout the social care sector. Personal budget holders, service users, communities and families can, with support, find sources of support beyond traditional services and can actively shape, design and own those services they do use.

ResPublica is calling for partners for a new research project which will investigate this potential, assessing the range of emerging and innovative micro, mutual and personalised approaches to care, support and inclusion. Our research will explore the entrepreneurial and innovative opportunities open to personal budget holders, their families and to front line social care workers. These include social care micro-enterprises, user-led commissioning and approaches which involve new relationships between services, people with long term conditions, and their communities.

The project will be a flagship output of our Models and Partnerships for Social Prosperity workstream, and is now open to external engagement from third party organisations. For the next stage, ResPublica would like to establish a consortium of partners from the public, private and third sectors, who will feed in to our further research and debate in this area and benefit from co-branding on publications and events. For further information, or to discuss partnership opportunities, please contact Caroline Julian, Senior Researcher and Project Manager, at [email protected].