A social care leader has warned the steep rise in the number of people with dementia in Wales is a “ticking timebomb”.
Mario Kreft, the chair of Care Forum Wales, was responding to a new report which shows there are already 11,000 people living with the condition in the north of the country.
According to the study by Denbighshire County Council, there are now 50,000 people aged 65 and over in north with the figure due to rise to 210,000 by 2039.
Mario Kreft said that the report was a “real wake up call” and that “we really need to look at the leadership here in Wales” and how they were preparing for this future.
“We are sitting on a social care timebomb and we need to take urgent action otherwise we will be sleep-walking into a perfect storm,” he said.
By 2039 over-65 are expected to make up 30 percent of the population in the north of Wales, with Conwy and Anglesey likely to have the highest proportion of them, he said.
The report concluded there was likely to be a need for more nursing home places.
Mr Kreft said the findings came as no surprise and highlighted once again the lack of capacity in the system.
“It is imperative that we create a climate to reverse the decline in the number of care homes and get people building them again,” he said. “The sector is chronically underfunded so this needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
“Unless more care homes are built, a lot of these older people are going to end up in hospital where there’s no room for them anyway.
“We need the leadership to take the difficult decisions about how in the future we’re going to have a sustainable health and social care system.
“Last year the Welsh Government took a big step in the right direction by identifying social care as a key pillar of our economic well-being.
“It is not happening now because the sums do not add up and if we can’t have a vibrant care sector In Wales, the knock on effects for our services and indeed, for the people of Wales are going to be very, very serious indeed.”