FORMER TV news anchor Mike Edwards says families face “unimaginable hurdles” to get the appropriate level of healthcare for their loved ones.

And then to make matters worse, he adds: “They have to pay for it.”

He fronts a powerful new documentary, produced by Alzheimer Scotland, which aims to drive forward a campaign calling for free healthcare for people with advanced dementia.

In the film he details the challenges of caring full-time for his 91-year-old mother who has declined rapidly in the past two years and is shown helping her walk across the kitchen.

“I’m very fortunate, I can be at home all day, every day, and look after my mum the way that I want her to be looked after.” he says.

“Not everybody, of course, is as lucky as I am and some people face unimaginable hurdles to get the appropriate level of care for their loved ones.

“And then they face the prospect of having to pay for it.

“There are 32 local authorities in Scotland and they do not all have the same policies in place to support those living with dementia.”


Mr Edwards interviews Rose Whyte, from Blairgowrie, whose husband Willie was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, vascular dementia and Parkinson’s disease. After a spell in hospital his wife Rose wanted to care for him at home, but was told he would only be released to a care home and required round-the-clock care. She was staggered to discover she would face costs of around £50,000 a year and feared she would have to sell the family home to fund his care needs.

She said: “I did not want him to die in a psychiatric unit. I had no-one to help me. I was on my own. I had to get him a place to say, a place to die.”

After lengthy and complicated negotiations, Mr Whyte entered a care home with funding for half of his care. The other half comes from the couple’s savings.

She said: “I had to find the strength to fight and after lengthy and complicated negotiations, he entered a care home with funding for half of his care in place but the other half of the funding comes from our life savings.

“Advanced dementia is a terminal illness.

“It’s a disease but it’s not treated as such.”

Alison Mitchell is a consultant in palliative care for cancer patients and her father has just been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

She says: “The patients I see with cancer. Their needs are assessed by a whole range of professionals.

“I don’t see the same resource for my dad. I don’t see the same resourced for dementia and yet their needs are very parallel.

“It’s not fair. It’s a ticking time bomb. It’s going to affect more and more people.”

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