Japanese lessons on dementia care

Dr Mayumi Hayashi is a Leverhulme early career fellow in the Institute of Gerontology at King’s College London. She discusses the Japanese approach towards dementia care and suggests lessons for the UK.shutterstock_124335502

Last year, the British coalition government emphasised the need to improve dementia care, with David Cameron launching his “challenge on dementia“, which identified three major goals: better health and care, fostering “dementia-friendly” communities, and improved research. Initial successes included a substantial increase in primary care trust funding for dementia care, but subsequent cuts in government spending resulted in reduced funding for the condition. Discussions in Whitehall about finding new, yet cost-effective, initiatives have been informed by Japan’s experience. There, politicians and policy makers have focused on educating the public (even the term “dementia” was outlawed) by recruiting and mobilising volunteer dementia “supporters”, and implementing a new national compulsory long-term care insurance system, offering enhanced services for people with dementia. Continue reading