According to recent research from the Alzheimer’s Society, English businesses last year took a £3.2 billion hit because carers had to leave their jobs or change their working patterns to care for a loved one with dementia. More than 112,000 people have had to give up their jobs completely, with some retiring early, because of their caring commitments.
The research, which was carried out by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, showed that the cost of dementia to English businesses has increased by £1.6 billion in the past four years, and is set to increase to £6.3 billion by 2040.
Jeremy Hughes, the Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said, ‘Up and down the country families are desperately trying and often failing to get the good quality dementia care their loved ones need. Instead, more than 100,000 people have had no choice but to leave their jobs and try to care for their loved ones themselves.
“The knock-on cost to businesses is only going to get bigger, with more and more people set to develop dementia, and no solution put in place to sort out social care. It’s devastating for people with dementia, devastating for their families and carers, a drain on the NHS and now we see how badly it’s affecting our economy.’
Carers such as Yvonne, 43, who is juggling the needs of a young family and an ailing mother while continuing to try to work, are at the sharp end of the care crisis. ‘My job is still in the City, so my commute is longer and more challenging than it used to be,’ she said. ‘Work do allow me to work from home quite a bit, but I work after hours in the evening and at the weekend to catch up on the time I miss during the week when I’ve had to drop things to attend to mum. I feel like I’ve had to put my career on hold as I have no capacity to take on additional responsibility and therefore go for promotions.’
The society is proposing three key principles that it wants the government to recognise and act on in its care reforms. These are that radical action is needed to reduce the cost to individuals while improving the quality and accessibility of dementia care; that high quality dementia care should be universal and that offers a minimum level of support for everyone; and that any reforms must recognise the unique injustice in the dementia care system, where people with dementia are charged a ‘dementia tax’ – on average 15% more than standard social care – because of their complex care needs, with many having to sell their homes to pay for care.