A COUNCIL chief said the system is struggling with ever-increasing demand for dementia services in Calderdale.
Councillor Ruth Goldthorpe, chairwoman of the adult health and social care scruitiny panel, this week launched a report to highlight the issues.
The report outlines the need to improve the current system of care for people with dementia.
The Government recently introduced a prize fund of £1m for NHS staff suggesting innovative ways to transform dementia care.
But Coun Goldthorpe said the offer should be broadened out to local authority staff, the voluntary sector and members of the public.
The panel’s report – which aims to make Calderdale a “dementia-friendly” town by 2014 – will be presented to the council Cabinet in June.
In her foreword, Coun Goldthorpe said: “We have seen much that is good. The staff we have met have been enthusiastic, committed and professional.
“But the larger picture is less rosy. The system is struggling with ever-increasing demand.
“Understanding of dementia is high among specialists but very patchy among staff more generally.” The condition affects an estimated 700,000 people across the UK and the numbers are increasing, according to the Department of Health.
In Calderdale, £20m is spent on dementia services but the report says that could be spent more effectively – by primary care services increasing rates of early diagnosis and averting any crises from delayed care.
Coun Goldthorpe told the Courier: “Dementia-friendly means people are aware of some of the problems those with dementia have.
“Metro have already started training their staff. It affects everbody – whether it’s the experience of shopping, where someone can’t remember how much money they have to pay with.
“So people need to be more aware and more patient.
“We want to promote that. How we get there is still to be worked out.”
Professor Murna Downs, head of Bradford Dementia Group and chairwoman in dementia studies at the University of Bradford, added: “The more informed a person can be, their family can be, and the community can be – the shopkeepers, hairdressers, hospital staff – it’s better everyone having the understanding that this is something people live with and can enjoy life with.
“But it takes two – it takes the person with dementia and the person they are interacting with.”