Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher said he was alarmed by the findings of a new study which has found that only 11% of long term residential care homes have dedicated dementia units. He was responding research by Trinity College Dublin/St. James’s Hospital, which revealed major geographical gaps in the provision of dementia services.

Deputy Kelleher commented, “More than 40,000 people in Ireland suffer with dementia but the provision of services across the country is patchy at best. This research highlights the fact that at least six counties have no dementia provision whatsoever, and there are capacity issues in many of the units that do cater for people with dementia.

“This Government’s dementia strategy is wholly inadequate, with the private sector providing the majority of residential services. This leaves thousands of dementia patients and their families with no option but to seek care in our hospitals; in a setting which is completely inappropriate for their needs. The number of people with dementia is expected to rise to 150,000 in 30 years’ time, what will happen then? The National Dementia Scheme, which was launched before Christmas falls far short of the mark and will not provide adequate support for these patients.

“This is an issue that will escalate as time goes on. People are living longer and will need more supports as they age. The problems that already exist will become more pronounced in future years unless they are properly planned for and managed. The current situation doesn’t bode well. There are lengthy waiting lists for already overpopulated units, with no signs of an improvement of the situation. The Government must begin prioritising elder care, and in particular dementia care. We need a coherent plan which will ensure a residential care place for those who need it, as well as additional specialised care units for dementia patients.”