More than one in three people in England diagnosed with dementia are not getting the follow-up care they are entitled to, a charity has said.
The NHS specifies that everyone diagnosed with the condition should have an individual care plan that is reviewed at least once a year.
But Age UK found that as of November, out of the 458,461 people with a recorded diagnosis of dementia, only 282,573 had a new care plan or at least one care plan review on record in the previous 12 months.
The charity describes the plans, which set out the tailored support someone should receive and should be updated in line with the progression of the disease in the individual, as “the gateway to follow-up support from the NHS”.
With the number of people with dementia in the UK forecast to rise from 850,000 in 2015 to 1 million by 2025, Age UK warned a failure to provide the plans will hamper the ability of the growing number of people with the disease to live in the community.
Caroline Abrahams, Age UK’s charity director, said: “Our analysis suggests that many people with dementia are losing out on the NHS follow-up support they need and are supposed always to be offered, once they have received their diagnosis.
“As a result, they and their loved ones are missing precious opportunities to get help with living as well as possible with the disease. The absence of a care plan also means that people with dementia are not being signposted to services that really could improve their physical and mental health, and sense of wellbeing.”
She reminded the government of its commitment under the prime minister’s challenge on dementia 2020 to improving the “quality of post-diagnosis treatment and support for people with dementia and their carers”.
Age UK said there are not enough good local support services for people with dementia but, in its Promising Approaches to Dementia report, published on Tuesday, it highlighted a number of “evidence[-based], cost-effective and scalable” interventions that could form part of care plans.
They include counselling, specialist nurses providing advice and support, horticultural therapy and dance-based therapy.
Kate Jopling, a policy and strategy consultant and the author of the report, said: “What we’ve produced is a practical resource for individuals, organisations and communities who want a better deal for people with dementia. It sets out what people with dementia want, what’s been tried elsewhere, what evidence there is that it works.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “We want to make this the best country in the world for dementia care and we therefore expect everyone with dementia to have a personalised care plan.
“NHS England data shows that over the last two years, more people with dementia are getting better access to support.”
Age UK’s analysis was based on data from 7,185 GP practices in England, published by NHS Digital. NHS England guidance says: “There is an urgent need to ensure every person who has dementia has an individual care plan.”