Dementia prevalence increases dramatically with age, so increasing life expectancies have made dementia a key issue for health policy in OECD countries. Evidence suggests that all too often, health and care systems fail to provide people with dementia with the support they need to remain as healthy and independent as possible. This has to improve: we must make sure that more people get a timely diagnosis and can access the long-term care services they need; families need to be supported and health systems need to be much better at recognizing people with dementia and taking account of their specific needs and risks. A number of countries have already developed dementia strategies based on the best available evidence of what works. However, measuring the impact of these policies remains a challenge and there are as yet no internationally comparable measures of the quality of care for people with dementia. Developing this type of indicator is a key priority for the OECD over the next few years.
This seminar started by outlining what we know about how well health and care systems currently serve people with dementia, and which strategies seem to be the most effective in improving this. Drawing on the 2015 publication Addressing Dementia: the OECD Response, ten key objectives were identified that all countries should consider and look at some of the policies that can help to achieve these aims. Looking forward, we explored some of the areas where it might be possible to develop indicators of the quality of dementia care, what they might tell us, and the challenges that we will face.