Top tips from our panel on how to improve dementia care
The 2009 National Dementia Strategy: The prime minister's Dementia Challenge builds on the work of the National Dementia Strategy and gives us the opportunity to push things further and faster.
National campaigns: We ran a public awareness campaign last year, including TV adverts which are available to view on the NHS Choices website. Announced in the PM's challenge was a new awareness-raising campaign from autumn 2012. This will be a nationwide campaign.
The care home compact: We know that two thirds of people have dementia and one third with dementia in the country are in a care home. We already have ten leading care home providers who have signed up to the compact and are looking at ways to improve the standard of care within their homes for people with dementia.
Local support: The Department of Health has allocated funding to support the development of local Dementia Action Alliances. These alliances will act as a key driver to bring organisations people with dementia and carers and set out the changes that need to take place.
More support for carers: The costs of caring are significant. Many carers face financial hardship, often forced to give up work and pay high care bills from limited income or private savings. There needs to be firm commitments from the government to provide better support to carers.
Liz Kendall, shadow minister for care and older people
Integrated services: We must stop seeing physical health, mental health, public health and social care as somehow separate. We haven't cracked it yet but this is the biggest change we face.
Professional training: The Royal College of GPs is working hard to improve the training of GPs - organising conferences as part of GPs continuing professional development and drawing up a range of others support, training and tools for GPs.
John Williams, head of clinical activities and head of neuroscience and mental health at the Wellcome Trust
Non-clinical research: A key message for me from this discussion has been the importance of working with carers, patients and family members to identify issues that speak to their every day experience of dementia, and which subject to careful study could yield results that lead to rapid benefits in how we manage patients.
New research: Scientists in universities and pharma are working to try and accelerate our understanding of the biology of dementia. This is an area of particular strength in the UK. However this is proving to be an incredibly difficult problem to 'solve' and while significant advances in our knowledge are being made they have been slow to 'translate' into useful new drugs.
Arming ourselves with knowledge: The health and social care system remains difficult for people to navigate their way through. We need to help people with dementia and their families make sense of what is happening.
Training the workforce: Getting a well-informed and valued workforce who are willing and able to support people with dementia, and their carers, to live the life they want to live is the single most important step.
Dr Mani Santhanakrishnan, consultant old-age, psychiatrist and a member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists' faculty of the psychiatry of old age
Awareness: We've now got dementia as top of our agenda, but we need to pass this to grass root level.
Services: Our trust has launched the MPS (memory protection service) on 1 April. This is a newly commissioned service our Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Foundation trust is providing in partnership with south of the Tyne primary care CCG.
Richard McCourt, celebrity ambassador for the Alzheimer's Society
Changing attitudes: People simply need to be made aware further that this is a disease of the brain and that deep down the person that they love is still there.
Diagnosis: I am glad to see that the routine checks will be offered to people aged 40 to 74 as a lot of people think dementia affects older people. Mum was 58 when diagnosed. I still don't think it will be enough to tackle the problem. As you say some people don't visit their GP regularly - the problem needs tackling nationally as cancer wasand Aids in the 80's.
Role of the third sector: Dementia cafes and similar other bodies are funded by the amazing work the Alzheimer's Society do. The services however small are vital for the carers and families of people with the disease. Local authorities need to realise this and be trained in such a way that this funding is put in place as the smallest service can be the biggest help.
Leon Smith is CEO of Nightingale, a partly publicly funded residential care home that specialises in dementia
Recruitment restrictions: Perhaps one area in which the government could assist us is in easing the restrictions on the recruitment of non-EU staff. With the best will in the world recruitment of healthcare workers, particularly in central London, is a challenge.
Public awareness: One difficulty which I find particularly in the care home setting is that many relatives are in denial - they don't want to recognise that their own parent may have symptoms of dementia. I agree that a public awareness programme would be extremely valuable in addressing this issue.
Philippa Hare is programme manager for A Better Life at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation
User-led support: User-led groups of people with dementia are growing in confidence. There is clear demand for help with capacity-building and enabling groups to support, network with and learn from each other.
Language: I don't like to use the term 'dementia sufferer' – not because I think that the condition doesn't cause much hardship for all affected (it most certainly does!) – but because, to me, the word 'sufferer' conveys an immediate sense of passivity and victimhood.
Dementia-friendly communities: The Dementia Without Walls project has explored the difficulties people encounter in going about their daily lives, and what might be done to remove some of the difficulties. The whole community has a role in enabling people with dementia to remain their customers, passengers, members, clients, participants etc.
Karen Harrison Dening is the head of Admiral Nursing for Dementia UK
Specialist nurses: We often hear from families, they want 'someone' who can navigate them through the system. Admiral Nursing is an intervention specifically tailored to provide care management to families affected by dementia. It is positively evaluated by all those that experience it and should be available as a service to all families affected by dementia.
Widespread: All of us are, or will be, affected by dementia; whether we actually develop the illness, or whether a friend, family member, neighbour etc does. One in three of us will die with or from dementia so it will affect us in one way or another.
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Apr 24 2012, 03:30 AM
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