Dementia campaigner wins award and highlights crisis

By Surrey and Hants News in Health

Alzheimer’s Society champion Terry Eccott and his daughter Sara had a special day out at St James’s Palace on April 19 when they were invited to the society’s People Awards.

Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes was at an international conference in Japan but recorded a message praising its volunteers for their work. Royal patron Princess Alexandra presented the 12 awards.

Mr Eccott, from Alton, was a runner-up in the Pushing Boundaries category for the work he has done in the past year, from working on the society’s new brand and values to his presentations and awareness talks around the country.

He said: “It was an amazing day, to go to St James’s Palace and receive an award and to meet up with so many people who are dedicated in helping others living with dementia.

“But we must not forget, in recent years, the massive cutbacks that have been made in all departments concerning health in this country by successive governments, who have expected the charities to pick up the shortfall, which has only in turn created crisis points right across the country.

“In my home county of Hampshire, for instance, there are over 25,000 people diagnosed with dementia.

“Forty per cent of those, who have vascular dementia, receive hardly any or no support at all, as their consultants are signing them off because of the cutbacks and sheer numbers, and there are at present no drugs for vascular dementia unless it crosses over with Alzheimer’s Disease, so that leaves 10,000 in no-man’s-land until they become so unwell that the family cannot cope anymore.

“Only then are they referred back on to the consultants’ books.

“The numbers are frightening when you look at them, as there is only a handful of hard-working dedicated workers who have to deal with this situation. There are only 10 dementia support workers and 10 dementia advisers working for the Alzheimer’s Society that have to cover the whole of Hampshire.

“There are, of course, other dementia charities in Hampshire working with similar numbers, but even with putting them all together with the many dedicated volunteers who work above and beyond the call of duty - many of them who have lost loved ones to dementia themselves - it is still not enough to cover over 25,000 diagnosed people and their families.

“Taking all that on board, if those are the figures in one county then think of all the others across the UK. With numbers forever increasing, it is a desperate situation that has to be dealt with at some point in the future.”