WEST Sussex County Council has almost a ‘moral duty’ to help the county’s growing number of Alzheimers sufferers and their families, its leader told a meeting.
Labour member Brenda Smith said figures showed West Sussex could expect a 2,000 increase in the number of people with the disease by 2014.
“The estimated cost of providing services for them is reported to be £44m, and the figures seem extraordinarily high,” she told leader Louise Goldsmith.
“Are you confident the county council will be able to fund such a high level of care?”
Cllr Goldsmith said Alzheimers was a most awful disease. “We are at the stage now where we were with breast or prostate cancer about 30 ago,” she added.
“The more we can raise the profile of problems with dementia, the better it will be.”
People should be encouraged to go for early diagnosis, which could mean a better quality and length of life for sufferers, and also benefits for the family, because it gave them time to plan.
There was a huge piece of work to be done on this, and the county council was talking to the NHS about early intervention and diagnosis, and about how they could plan.
“I am really excited that the NHS is very supportive of this,” said Cllr Goldsmith.
“I think it is almost our moral duty to help.”
One of the problems was not enough money for research on the disease was being provided. If its profile were raised, more money would go into research.
Cllr Smith said she was concerned that when a diagnosis was given which was devastating, families were completely at a loss – it was the additional support and services they did not know about.
Cllr Goldsmith said they should be able to get together a portfolio to help families. “We have limited resources – let us make the best of them,” she declared.