When a hospital Dementia Care Lead asks for an increase in staff provision for dementia care leadership and education, of course those in charge of budgets have to reflect on what value that might bring. Whilst the inspired Dementia Care Lead can visualise what dementia care could look like if better-staffed, the budget-holders may not always have insight into the impact appropriate dementia care has, not only on patients’ well-being, but also on their safety and indeed their length of stay. Often, spending more on dementia care leadership and education can dramatically reduce costs overall – but if you don’t understand that process, why would you authorise what seems to be additional spending?

What I’m starting to see is, I think, interesting and also uplifting. One Dementia Care Lead whose inspirational leadership, dedication and hard work had transformed the dementia care approach in her hospitals, recently decided to take on a challenge in another location, so had to be replaced. Is it a coincidence that her Trust advertised the newly-vacant role at senior management level? Might it actually have become clear that investment in dementia care isn’t just investment in the safety and well-being of people living with dementia (and their carers), as well as investment in job satisfaction and stress level reduction for staff, but also brings a reduction in costly incidents and extended length of stay?

Another fabulous, massively respected Dementia Care Lead is shortly to retire. As time has gone on, she has demonstrated the value of investment in dementia care leadership and dementia education, until the combined role eventually became full-time. When she retires, dementia care leadership and education will become no longer one, but two full-time roles at that Trust.

I have said before that I’m certain we’ll look back in a few years’ time and wonder how it took us so long to grasp the concept that hospital dementia care leadership shouldn’t be an add-on to the “day job”; it shouldn’t even be a part-time role in its own right. I foresee a time when it’s standard practice that the Dementia Care Lead – at senior management level – coordinates a whole dementia care leadership sub-team. When the country marvels that despite funding all these roles it is actually saving money in hospitals, as well as reducing the number of people unable to return home and needing additional support after extended and problematic hospital stays, some of us will think back to the people who showed their hospitals the benefits of excellence in dementia care and paved the way for a better future.

Between a quarter and a third of all hospital inpatients would benefit from dementia-friendly care; this is an established fact.

Thank you to those people now shaping better dementia care leadership provision for everyone needing hospital dementia care in the future.