Dáil debates

Thursday, 14 May 2015

National Dementia Strategy Implementation: Statements


11:50 am

Photo of Michael FitzmauriceMichael Fitzmaurice (Roscommon-South Leitrim, Independent) | Oireachtas source

I thank Deputy Finian McGrath for sharing time with me. I represent the constituency of Roscommon-South Leitrim. County Leitrim has the highest number of people, per capita, with dementia, while County Roscommon has the second highest. The statistics show that our population is ageing and every family has someone, be it a cousin or other relative, who has been touched by dementia. Early intervention is crucial for such people. Clarity is required through diagnosis, as early intervention is so important.

Towns should be adapted for those with dementia so they can go shopping, for example. There should be a premises in each town where such people could have a cup of tea and feel safe. Community awareness of dementia through education is also required so that townspeople will take care of those affected. In that way, an outlet can be provided for those with dementia. Such a strategy should be pursued in every county in order to facilitate those suffering from dementia, as well as their families.

I intend to make a pre-budget submission on the lines of what happens in Britain where the purchase of facilities and services for dementia sufferers does not incur VAT. I am aware of families that try to keep a parent suffering from dementia at home. One can buy many items, including an electronic wrist-strap that can close a door and prevent it from opening, VAT-free in the UK. We should emulate this novel idea of removing VAT from such items. Such a measure would actually save the State money.

I have met a person in Athlone who designed a house for a dementia sufferer. Such buildings allow those with dementia to remain longer in their family home. We should examine this approach.

It is important to ensure that the public are aware of the difficulties surrounding dementia. I understand that €15 million will be made available to the HSE for the national dementia strategy through Atlantic Philanthropies. I ask the Minister of State, Deputy Kathleen Lynch, to ensure that the money is ring-fenced for dementia care. I know it is being matched 50-50, but it should be put to good use.

In this regard, the Minister of State should also look at the west of Ireland, including Roscommon and South Leitrim, where figures for dementia are very high. I urge her to implement pilot dementia projects in the places that are most affected. Dementia sufferers deserve comfort, as do their families.


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