A dementia expert from North Wales has warned the condition is the biggest crisis facing society today.
The stark message came from Steve Ford, the dementia advisor of Care Forum Wales (CFW) which represents more than 500 independent care providers in Wales.
There are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK today, a number that’s forecast to double within a generation, a fact that Steve Ford describes as the “dementia time-bomb”.
By 2021, the number of people with dementia across Wales is projected to increase by 31 per cent and by as much as 44 per cent in some rural areas.
Mr Ford, managing director Pembroke Nursing Homes in Colwyn Bay, was speaking at a free training event organised by Care Forum Wales at Conwy Business Centre.
He said: “Dementia really is a ticking time-bomb as the baby boomer generation reach old age there is a logistical challenge that we urgently need to address. We need to plan now to meet these huge challenges.
“Nursing homes and care providers need to work together now to create solutions. We will all be affected in one way or another.
“We need to incorporate positive change into our working practices at the care and nursing homes in which we work. We need to be bold, creative and above all emphatic.
“There is a perception that old age is a burden when we really should be celebrating longevity.
“We really are facing this demographic time-bomb with an increased expectation of higher quality services versus ever decreasing accommodation resources and funding.
“That means we can expect the number of people with dementia to double by the year 2040. It is essential, therefore, that care home staff are given the skills, expertise and knowledge to deliver safe and effective quality care with compassion.”
According to Ceri Roberts, managing director of Cariad Care Homes, which operates homes at Criccieth and Porthmadog, the seminar was excellent.
She said: “There is a great deal I and members of staff that have been able to attend can take back and cascade down to other staff and all our care assistants.
“There is so much we can do to and it’s about thinking outside the box when we go about our everyday nursing roles. Dementia is a huge issue for us and ensuring we provide the very best care is of paramount importance to us all.
“Being made aware of best practice and being able to learn from Steve Ford’s knowledge and years of practical experience is really important.”
It was a sentiment echoed by Maggie Hawley, deputy matron of Cerrig Yr Afon, Nursing and Residential Care Home, at Y Felinheli.
She said “It’s important we work together to ensure best practice and that we are all delivering the very best care we can. Everything we have learnt today I will be endeavouring to pass on to our carers and staff.
“I’m delighted Care Forum Wales, through Steve Ford, has organised these free to attend training seminars.”
Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, described Steve Ford as a “first class practitioner”.
He said: “The fact that people are living longer is a great thing, but with that comes this significant increase of those people who will have a form of dementia and, of course, some of those need a great deal of care.
“The benefit of having a training session conducted by somebody of Steve’s calibre as opposed to somebody who’s maybe just an academic is that he actually understands day in, day out, how you get the very best out of people, how you are able to develop your staff team to ensure the very best quality of care, best quality of life and that that care is delivered with respect and dignity in a very person centred way.”