Supporting the cost of Dementia care

Deepak Jobanputra, Deputy CEO, Vitality UK

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Dec 13, 2018
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There are over 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, according to charity Dementia UK, and this figure is set to rise to over a million by 20211. Worryingly, the general public still appear not to appreciate or understand fully the costs of dementia care, as according to YouGov figures released by the Alzheimer’s Society2, 50% of the public believe dementia care is free on the NHS. Yet, people with dementia typically spend £100,000 on care over their lifetime – a statistic that the vast majority (81%) of people surveyed were unaware of. 

When asked what the cost of dementia care might be, almost half (46%)2 said they had no idea. The most common response was between £25,000 and £50,000, which may be well below the true cost they are likely to have to pay. For a person living in the community, the average cost for someone with mild dementia is £26k, for a person with moderate stage of dementia, the average cost is £43k and for people in the sever stages of dementia the average cost is £55k3

Unfortunately, someone in the UK develops dementia every three minutes and the cost of care is estimated to be over £26 billion a year,3  which is largely shouldered by the families affected3. And despite a rapidly ageing UK population, the social care budget hasn’t truly increased since 20102. There was £2bn set aside by the government in last year’s Spring Statement and more recently £240m as a winter boost.2 These amounts are viewed by the chief executive at the Alzheimer Society, Jeremy Hughes, as a false economy. He notes that the NHS has already burnt up to £400m2 this year due to people with dementia being hospitalised after inadequate social care support and a further £3m a week2 as these patients become stuck on hospital wards because there’s nowhere else for them to go. Mr Hughes flagged that, “The current care system is leaving families in financial ruin and we’re just sleepwalking into a crisis.” The charity is calling for the Government to recognise the true cost of care for people with dementia, who rely on social care for support every day and to address the decades of chronic under-funding which means that families are often forced to foot the bill for spiralling care costs2

George McNamara, Director of Policy and Influencing at Independent Age4, agrees with the CEO of the Alzheimer’s Society in that care funding for dementia is woefully inadequate to address the long-term funding crisis in social care. Mr McNamara is calling for the introduction of free personal care for all older people in England, so they receive care packages earlier, avoiding the need to go into hospital. Although an admirable aim, this seems to be some way off when current funding is so inadequate.

According to stats from the Money Advice Service5, the average cost of a care home place in the UK is about £30,000 a year, and £40,000 if nursing care is required. But the cost will reflect regional differences and for those that live in the South East of England the costs are likely to be higher. And if 24-hour live in care at home is required, the cost soon escalates to around £50,000. With care at approximately £17 an hour, just two hours of care a day, can easily be almost £12,500 a year. So, with people living longer, care over many years would easily cost a six-figure sum.

The risk of developing dementia gradually increases with age, although is not an inevitable part of ageing. Two in 100 people aged 65 to 69 having dementia, rising to one in five of those aged 85-896.

It is against this backdrop of people living longer and the uncertainty of care cost funding that Vitality believes there is an immediate need for new solutions to help support people with the cost of care for dementia and frailty, in older age. Offering people some comfort, dignity and security, plus the choice to live in their own home, independently, for as long as possible, if needed. If the gap in government funding increases, having funds to make choices becomes vital.

Our shared value approach to insurance, incentivising members to make healthy lifestyle choices, is already engaging more people in their health and wellbeing7 and reducing their chances of developing dementia in later life. By adding Dementia and FrailCare cover to our Serious Illness Cover, (SIC) at no additional cost, members continue to have protection for later life illnesses from when the term of their SIC ends.

The key issue with care costs in later life, is that the future cost is unknown. So, customers who choose to include Dementia and FrailCare cover, when they are initially considering cover for their life and mortgage know, that by continuing to pay the same premium, they are able to benefit in the long-term. A proportion of the value of the amount of cover they have in place under their SIC, up to a £100,000, cap, is there to help with dementia care cost, if needed, for as long as they live.  

With so much uncertainty as to the actual care cost covered by government and social care services in the future, Dementia and FrailCare cover enables advisers to help individuals and their families to limit the financial sacrifices they may be required to make in the future, today. Helping to protect valuable assets, such as client’s homes and allowing customers to potentially have choices in the care they receive.

Sources:

1 Dementia UK – https://www.dementiauk.org/understanding-dementia/advice-and-information/dementia-first-steps/what-is-dementia/

2 Alzheimer’s Society comment on dementia care - https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/health-and-care/social-care/opinion/alzheimers-society/99262/budget-2018-dementia-charity

3 Alzheimer’s Research and Dementia UK hub - https://www.dementiastatistics.org/statistics/cost-by-sector-in-the-uk/

4 Independent Age comment on dementia care - https://www.politicshome.com/news/uk/health-and-care/social-care/press-release/independent-age/98736/matt-hancock-social-care

5 Money Advice Service comment on care costs – How much is it going to cost? https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/long-term-care-services-at-a-glance

6 Alzheimer’s Research and Dementia UK hub -https://www.dementiastatistics.org/statistics/prevalence-by-age-in-the-uk/

7 VitalityLife stats e.g. More than 80,000 members have taken advantage of the Apple Watch benefit and has increased members levels of activity by 40%.

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Vitality

We’re the first insurance company to reward people for healthy living. We aim to be the best at what we do, offering comprehensive and award-winning Health and Life cover and positively different investments to our members. We believe in the idea of ‘shared value’: we help you take a more active role in managing your own wellness, which can encourage you to develop healthy long-term habits that are good for you, good for us and good for society.

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