Archbishops’ inquiry to call for better dementia support in community

The church leaders’ commission will recommend more resources to make society ‘welcoming and safe’ for those affected

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Society must stop treating people with dementia as a burden and provide better care for them in the community, an inquiry into social care commissioned by the archbishops of Canterbury and York will say in the new year.

The church leaders’ Reimagining Care Commission will argue: “We are too quick to dismiss people who have dementia as burdens to be managed, failing to recognise the value and dignity of every human being, of all ages and abilities.”

It came after a Guardian investigation revealed more than half of residential dementia homes reported on by inspectors this year were rated “inadequate” or requiring improvement, leading to warnings of a “national crisis”.

Labour said the investigation revealed an “unforgivable collapse in standard of dementia care”. Ministers promised a 10-year plan for dementia care in 2022 but failed to deliver.

In a move that will increase pressure on the government to deliver comprehensive reforms, the archbishops’ commission is set to call for much greater emphasis on and resources for communities in providing social care, and after visiting Woodside Care Village, a purpose-built and designed care home for people with dementia, it concludes: “When we put the right environment around people living in institutional settings, they can thrive in the community.”

Family members have told of neglect and abuse in care homes which offer dementia support and were rated “good” before the pandemic, but “inadequate” now. Failings uncovered by inspectors this year include people left in bed “for months”, failure to administer pain medicine, violence between residents and malnutrition – including one person who didn’t eat for a month.

Amid predictions that 1.6 million people in the UK will have dementia by the middle of the century, analysis revealed that nearly one in 10 care homes in England that offer dementia support reported on by Care Quality Commission inspectors in 2022 were given the very worst rating – more than three times the ratio in 2019.

Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, has previously called for a new “covenant” on social care between the state and the people, similar to the provision of the NHS and education, which makes “absolute value and dignity” the top priority.

Dr Anna Dixon, chair of the archbishops’ commission, said: “Residential care is right for some people with dementia and can provide them with a safe and supportive living environment, especially when the facilities are made as home-like as possible and loved ones are closely involved in care.

“However with the number of people living with dementia increasing, it is vital that our communities are also welcoming and safe, and are given the resources they need to be welcoming and accessible to everyone.”

Read it all in The Guardian