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Free personal care for dementia sufferers, regardless of age

In a move which could mark a significant change in Scottish health policy, Health Secretary Alex Neil has said he is determined to ensure equal treatment for dementia sufferers under the age of 65. Up until now, younger people affected by dementia have missed out on the free personal dementia care provided to those over 65.

This recent promise came after Neil met Amanda Kopel, wife of Frank Kopel (former Dundee United footballer). Frank was diagnosed with early-onset dementia at the age of 59, and his wife currently pays over £350 a month for her husband’s home care, receiving just £40 state pension a week and £3.81 carer’s allowance a day. She said, “It costs me between £350 and £400 a month to provide carers for Frank. But 400 yards away they are providing exactly the same service for someone over 65 for free”.

The Scottish government has pledged to work with the benefits system and the NHS to ensure equal treatment for all dementia patients, regardless of age. 85,807 people across Scotland are currently diagnosed with dementia, with 3,201 of those under the age of 65 – this means they’re not receiving any financial help. With the recent changes to the benefits system, it’s now harder than ever before for them to claim money in this way. Neil commented, “we need to look at how we make sure that people with dementia who are under 65 get the support they need.”