This recovery plan builds on, continues and expands on the national action we have been taking since March to support people with dementia and their carers during the pandemic and to strengthen the resilience of our communities across Scotland to recover through the complementary action of the NHS, local authorities and the third sector.
I would like to take this opportunity first of all to express a sincere thank you everyone we have worked with this year on these challenging issues and for the commitment and dedication of staff across health, social care and the third sector in responding to the demands of the pandemic. I also want to thank those many organisations and individuals - including, crucially, many people with dementia and carers - who have contributed their valuable time and commitment to the final content of this plan.
This year, in unprecedented times people with dementia and their carers have experienced particular challenges associated with the necessary suspension of many of the normal services and supports they need and with the restrictions on visiting loved ones in care homes. During engagement on the development of this recovery plan, we have listened to individual experiences including those of declining physical and mental health, social isolation and the impact of delayed referrals into post-diagnostic services during the course of the pandemic. This plan sets out how we will continue to address those issues and more through 2021.
As the vaccination programme is rolled out – with most people with dementia and their carers benefitting from priority by age and/or care setting – we carry optimism for the beginning of the end of the direct impact of the pandemic but also commitment to support those bereaved and impacted during its course. I am aware that while the direct impact of the pandemic will hopefully recede next year, many individuals and families may continue to experience additional issues associated with its impact and legacy, and this plan sets out our coordinated response to those issues, as we recover, as individuals and as a community.
Our planned consultation on a fourth National Dementia Strategy was of necessity put on hold just as COVID-19 and our government response began. Nonetheless, we have also continued this year to implement the 2017-2020 Strategy, including developing our new and innovative approach to Brain Health across the population and in services – and this will be an important part of our overall approach to public health going forward. In addition we remain committed to the long-term modernisation of specialist in-patient dementia services as part of the overall care system.
I look forward to working with all of our stakeholders on implementing this recovery plan as we move into 2021.
Minister for Mental Health