€30 million funding boost for dementia care

Minister Lynch promises to match €14.7m grants from Chuck Feeney’s endowment

Philanthropist Charles F. “ Chuck “ Feeney being conferred an Honorary Degree jointly by the Universities of Ireland North and South at a ceremony in Dublin Castle. Mr Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies is making grants totalling €14.7 million to improve the wellbeing of people with dementia in the Republic. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Philanthropist Charles F. “ Chuck “ Feeney being conferred an Honorary Degree jointly by the Universities of Ireland North and South at a ceremony in Dublin Castle. Mr Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies is making grants totalling €14.7 million to improve the wellbeing of people with dementia in the Republic. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

A €30 million boost in funding for the care of people with dementia has been announced arising from one of billionaire Chuck Feeney’s final grants before he winds up his philanthropy operation.

Mr Feeney’s Atlantic Philanthropies is making grants totalling €14.7 million to improve the wellbeing of people with dementia in the Republic, and this sum is being matched by the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

The HSE is getting €12 million from Atlantic, with the remaining €2.7 million going to the Health Research Board.

Minister for Primary and Social Care, Kathleen Lynch said the grant was one of the most important investments made by Atlantic over recent years.

“The Department is providing €1 million in matching funding to support the research element of the collaboration and the HSE is providing matching funding of €15 million for the three priority areas of intensive home care supports, GP education and training, and dementia awareness. We will be sure to measure and report on implementation of this collaboration.”

Atlantic, which is targeting its final grants at “select challenges” in areas it has traditionally supported, says the dementia grants are the subject of “ongoing discussions” with the Government.

“A very few significant investments are being made in initiatives that are at or building toward a tipping point, where catalytic efforts are most likely to expand and sustain opportunity and create more equitable outcomes,” said Christopher Oechsli, president and chief executive of Atlantic. “These culminating Atlantic grants, therefore, will be especially important for those, like people suffering from dementia, who are vulnerable and face particularly difficult obstacles.”

Mr Feeney has said he wants to make “the highest and best use” of the remaining funds in his endowment. Atlantic, which made its first grant in 1982, expects to have given away €6 billion by the time it closes in 2017.

An estimated 42,000 people in the Republic have dementia, and this is projected to rise to 68,000 by 2021 and 152,000 by 2046. The overall cost of dementia is estimated at over €1.7 billion a year.

Ms Lynch said agreement had been reached on using the money to implement elements of the National Dementia Strategy and to develop a programme of research relevant to dementia.