The charity Action on Hearing Loss and University College London’s Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre are urging NHS England to substantially improve the quality of life experienced by people with dementia and hearing loss – and save taxpayers £28 million each year – by introducing a joined-up approach to the assessment, diagnosis and management of both conditions.
In a new report entitled ‘Joining Up’, the two organisations are calling for the National Dementia Strategy for England to be reviewed to ensure that funding is provided to meet the needs of people who are deaf or have hearing loss and also have dementia. This would ensure timely diagnosis, reduce the risk of exacerbating dementia symptoms and the need for expensive residential care.
37,400 people in England who are deaf or hard of hearing and have dementia go into care homes every year, but ensuring people with dementia receive a timely diagnosis, benefit from digital hearing aids, and receive communication support and assistive technology while living in their community, would reduce residential care home placement by 28% and result in an annual saving of £28 million.
Chief Executive of Action on Hearing Loss, Paul Breckell, said: “Our new research reveals that not only would accessing digital hearing aids and community-based support help people with severe dementia to lead better quality lives, but it would also deliver an annual saving of £28 million. Indeed, there would be additional significant savings for the taxpayer if the care for people with other long-term conditions like Parkinson’s, cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes or sight loss took account of the hearing loss affecting many of these people.
“The National Dementia Strategy for England should acknowledge the essential need to manage hearing loss, which would help prevent exacerbating dementia symptoms and avoid subsequent acute hospital admissions or costly residential care support.”
Professor Benice Woll from the Deafness Cognition and Language (DCAL) Research Centre at UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, said: “This report demonstrates why ensuring that Deaf people who have long term conditions have access to services that are designed appropriately to meet their needs makes clear financial sense. Relatively small investment in services, such as appropriate assessments delivered in sign language can prevent significant costs that occur as a result of late diagnosis, misdiagnosis or ineffective treatment plans.”
To read the report, visit www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/joiningup
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