THE charity Alzheimer Scotland has welcomed news that people with dementia will be invited to join a new independent national panel to help shape Scottish Government policy.

Announced at the beginning of Dementia Awareness Week, minister for mental wellbeing and social care Kevin Stewart commented: “The voice of experience is a crucial part of our policy making process, and making sure that it is factored in as early as possible in making important decisions is key to improving services across the country.

"Only someone living with dementia, their loved ones and carers fully know the complexities and nuances of dealing with it.”

Alzheimer Scotland director of policy and practice Jim Pearson told The National that the organisation was pleased to learn that the Scottish Government was taking this step to enhance “fundamental rights”, but warned that advice from those with lived experience of dementia needed to be acted upon.

Pearson said: “It is quite clear to us that there is still a great deal to be done to ensure that people with dementia and their families are listened to - for example, the many thousands of people with lived experience who support Alzheimer Scotland’s Fair Dementia Care campaign and our call for an end to the unequal and unfair charging policies placed on people with advanced dementia. These voices need listened to - and acted upon.”

Pearson also highlighted the individuals with lived experience who helped shape three consecutive National Dementia Strategies, saying they “cannot be forgotten.”

“Implementing these strategic commitments might have been derailed as a result of the pandemic,” Pearson continued. 

“But as we come out of the pandemic we need to see a meaningful return to implementing each of the main commitments if we are to honour the contributions of those with lived experience who have already given so much to support and develop national and local dementia policy.”