Department of Health

National Strategy on Dementia: Summary of Consultation Process

Department of Health
Department of Health

Following the assembly of the evidence into the research review described above, the Department of Health embarked on a public consultation process which commenced on 4 July and concluded on 31 August 2012.

The Department of Health invited submissions and used the research review as a basis for developing a questionnaire used in its public consultation. It received 73 responses and the core messages contained in the submissions and completed questionnaires are summarised in this report.  

Future Health: A Strategic Framework for Reform of the Health Service (2012-2015)

Department of Health

Future Health maps out the key actions, with timelines, that are required to achieve the Government’s objective to transform the Health System to a single-tier health service, supported by Universal Health Insurance (UHI) that is designed in accordance with the principles of social soli

darity.  Recognising the need for large-scale change that delivers fundamental reform, the policy is built on four key inter-dependent pillars:

  1. Health and Wellbeing

  2. Service Reform

  3. Structural Reform

  4. Financial Reform

While this policy does not specifically address dementia, it proposes fundamental change to the systems and service provision in ROI.  It highlights an ageing population as one of the key future issues in service provision.  The Strategic Framework has been designed to do three things:

∙ Set out the strategic policy direction for health reform up to 2015

∙ Deliver real tangible improvement in the quality of patient care well ahead of the introduction of UHI

∙ Prepare the ground for the introduction of UHI by radically reforming the way in which the current health system is organised, financed and delivered.

National Carers’ Strategy: Recognised, Supported, Empowered

Department of Health

The National Carers’ Strategy sets the strategic direction for future policies, services and supports provided by Government Departments and agencies for carers.

This includes carers of people with dementia, the majority of whom live at home in their own communities and for whom carers are the cornerstone of their care. The Strategy is a Cross-Departmental Strategy. It sets out guiding principles, goals and objectives addressing priority areas (income support, health, information, respite, housing, transport, training, employment, children and young people with caring responsibilities) and a Roadmap for Implementation containing 42 Actions to be achieved on a cost-neutral basis in the short to medium term.

The four goals of the National Carers’ Strategy are to:

  • Recognise the value and contribution of carers and promote their inclusion in decisions relating to the person that they are caring for

  • Support carers to manage their physical, mental and emotional health and well-being

  • Support carers to care with confidence through the provision of adequate information, training, services and supports

  • Empower carers to participate as fully as possible in economic and social life

The implementation of the National Carer’s Strategy is reported in progress reports. The First Annual Progress Report (September 2012 – September 2013) can be accessed here.

The Second Progress Report (September 2013-September 2014 can be accessed here.  

The Third Progress Report (September 2014-September 2015) can be accessed here.

The Fourth Progress Report (September 2015-December 2016) can be accessed here.

The National Positive Ageing Strategy: Positive Ageing Starts Now

Department of Health

The National Positive Ageing Strategy (NPAS), published in April 2013, is a high level commitment from the Government outlining a vision for ageing and older people in ROI.

It is an over-arching cross-departmental policy that serves as a blueprint for age-related policy and service delivery across Government. It includes four national goals to serve as a direction in achieving the vision outlined:

  • Remove barriers to participation and provide more opportunities for the continued involvement of people as they age in all aspects of cultural, economic and social life in their communities according to their needs, preferences and capacities.

  • Support people as they age to maintain, improve or manage their physical and mental health and wellbeing.

  • Enable people to age with confidence, security and dignity in their own homes and communities for as long as possible.

  • Support and use research about people as they age to better inform policy responses to population ageing in ROI

Each of these goals is underpinned by several objectives that are relevant to specific policy areas and cross-cutting objectives of combatting ageism and improving information provision.

Healthy Ireland provides the basis for the implementation of the National Positive Ageing Strategy. The Strategy committed to the development of an Implementation Plan, based on the strategic direction laid out in the NPAS. This is still under development, but will when developed facilitate:

  • Translation of the Goals and Objectives of the Strategy into action on the ground

  • Development of key deliverables in a more detailed manner, taking account of relevant linkages with other statutory agencies

  • Development of timelines and performance indicators

  • Specification of ‘direct responsible individuals’ across Government and wider civil society

For each of the National Goals and Objectives, Priority Action Areas were also identified in the strategy.  These were selected as key areas in which actions should be developed. They are intended to set the strategic direction for activity rather than prescribe the specific measures that will be taken to progress the implementation of the Strategy. 

Most recently the government have produced the Positive Ageing 2016 report which presents findings from a wide range of existing resources on what matters for older people. It sets out the evidence under the three pillars identified in the National Positive Ageing Strategy offering a benchmark for the future against which to measure progress.

Positive Ageing 2016: National Indicators Report can be accessed here.

Healthy Ireland – A Framework for Improved Health and Wellbeing 2013-2025

Department of Health

Healthy Ireland is ROI’s national framework for action to improve the health and wellbeing of the people of ROI, published in 2013. Its main focus is on prevention and keeping people healthier for longer.

Healthy Ireland’s goals are to:

  • Increase the proportion of people who are healthy at all stages of life

  • Reduce health inequalities

  • Protect the public from threats to health and wellbeing

  • Create an environment where every individual and sector of society can play their part in achieving a healthy Ireland

Healthy Ireland takes a whole-of-Government and whole-of-society approach to improving health and wellbeing and the quality of people’s lives. While there is no explicit mention of dementia in Healthy Ireland, one of its key goal is to decrease the prevalence of unhealthy behaviours that contribute to chronic disease, and to increase the degree to which diseases and conditions are either prevented, or detected early enough to allow for successful intervention.

With respect to dementia, whilst ageing is the strongest risk factor for dementia and genes can play a part, the likelihood of developing dementia is also influenced by a number of cardiovascular risk factors and factors related to lifestyle including physical exercise, smoking, alcohol consumption, diet and cognitive activity. There is strong evidence that a healthy lifestyle can help to reduce the risk of dementia. Under the National Dementia Strategy, public awareness and health promotion measures are to be implemented by the Health Service Executive to support the implementation of Healthy Ireland by highlighting the modifiable lifestyle and cardiovascular risk factors which can beneficially impact on risk and time of onset of dementia. 

Two surveys have been completed since the publication of the Healthy Ireland Framework and links to the reports on these surveys are included below.  Links to a number of other policy documents and reports are also included. While these may not be directly related to dementia, they have relevance in terms of wider approaches to the prevention of dementia.

  • Healthy Ireland Survey 2015 Summary of Findings can be accessed here.
  • Healthy Ireland Survey 2016 Summary of Findings can be accessed here.
  • Tobacco Free Ireland can be accessed here.
  • Tobacco Free Ireland Action Plan can be accessed here.
  • A Healthy Weight for Ireland: Obesity Policy and Action Plan 2016-2025 can be accessed here.
  • Get Ireland Active: the National Physical Activity Plan can be accessed here.

The Irish National Dementia Strategy

Department of Health

The Irish National Dementia Strategy, led by the Department of Health, was launched on 17 December 2014. The ROI Government made a commitment in The Programme for Government 2011-2016 to develop a National Dementia Strategy for Ireland by 2013.

The development of the strategy was informed by a research review, a review of international dementia policies/plans/strategies, review of Irish policy contexts, public consultation process, clinicians’ roundtable (2) on the national dementia strategy, workshops (2) with people with dementia and carers, and National Dementia Strategy Advisory Group. The aim of the Strategy is to improve dementia care so that people with dementia can live well for as long as possible, can ultimately die with comfort and dignity, and can have services and supports delivered in the best way possible. The Strategy identifies key principles to underpin and inform the full range of health and social care services provided to people with dementia, their families and carers. Six Priority Areas for Action have been identified in the Strategy, as follows:

  • Better awareness and understanding

  • Timely diagnosis and intervention

  • Integrated services, supports and care for people with dementia and their carers

  • Training and education

  • Research and information systems

  • Leadership

For each of the Priority Action Areas, considered key to the implementation of the Strategy, objectives are outlined, the area is discussed and Additional Actions are also identified. In the context of resource constraints, some of the actions will be implemented based on a review and reconfiguration of existing resources, whilst others will be progressed as resources become available in the future. The Department of Health and the Health Service Executive have agreed a joint initiative with The Atlantic Philanthropies with initial funding of €27.5m, with The Atlantic Philanthropies contributing €12m, and the HSE contributing €15.5m, to be used to implement the Strategy over the period 2014-2017. The National Dementia Implementation Programme aims to promote a greater focus on timely diagnosis of dementia and on the value of early intervention, along with the long-term objective of making people in ROI generally more aware and understanding of the needs of people with dementia, and of the contribution that those with dementia continue to make to our society.

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