From the prism of Brussels

Written by: Irene Oldfather, Director of Strategic Partnerships and Engagement, the ALLIANCE

Published: 14/07/2016

What does Brexit mean for People with Dementia and their Carers?

The truth is that at this point in time no one really knows.  Various meetings in Brussels this week (14 July) confirm that the way ahead is uncertain and the one thing we can be sure of is that this is “uncharted waters” that will require blue sky thinking.

Across the Third Sector as the ALLIANCE’s Brexit survey has shown there is uncertainty around what an exit might mean in terms of resources and at what point changes might kick in.  Further to that – how will any future deficits be recovered?

Despite knocking many doors this week for an answer – no one really knows. The absence of a clear exit strategy is glaringly obvious.

A big personal disappointment is the huge question mark now hanging over the British Presidency.  If I were a betting person, my money would be on this not now taking place next year.  Should that turn out to be the case, it is a missed opportunity to raise awareness around the issue of dementia which was clearly going to be a UK and Scottish agenda item.

Only last week I tabled a debate in the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), Social Affairs Committee, on the matter of future co-operation and actions on Dementia.   Over 7 million European citizens have dementia and many more families and carers live with dementia.   Given the highly developed policy framework and the Charter of Rights, the British Presidency would have been an ideal opportunity to showcase progress.

While much has been done, the stories that we hear everyday illustrate that there is more to do to narrow the gap between policy and implementation.   That is why stories like Tommy’s and our Dementia Carer Voices project play such an important part in supporting the improvement work to be done.

Whatever the outcome of Brexit negotiations we must ensure that there continue to be resources allocated to the Third Sector to deliver in our communities.   Also that we continue to learn and share knowledge and good practice across the European Union.

One of the areas for which we must all take some responsibility is sharing the good news stories from Europe.  This week alone Scotland has been highlighted in the European Innovation Programme on Active and Health Ageing as a four star reference site in recognition of the innovation which takes place in partnership working for the benefit of our elderly citizens.  In the days ahead let’s keep at the forefront our focus, keeping people at the heart of what we do and ensuring that we find ways to continue to work across Europe for the benefit of marginalised people and communities.

You can read some EESC members’ views on the recent EU Referendum in the UK in the latest EESC newsletter, with a few words from myself on page 5.

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