18 May 2015, National

Responding to the dementia challenge

Dementia is a term given to a group of symptoms affecting the brain, including memory loss, communication problems and mood changes.

It can strip people of their identity and their connection with the world.

Dementia can happen to anyone and there’s currently no cure.

Number of diagnosis set to rise

The Alzheimer’s Society estimates that one in three people over the age of 65 will develop dementia, and with life expectancy increasing, the number of people with the condition is set to significantly rise.

This is why it is crucial that we not only design services tailored specifically to support those with dementia, but also provide the right environment in which patients receive care.

Bringing dementia care closer to home

Community Health Partnerships is involved in a number of projects directly responding to the ‘dementia challenge’.

Case study: Improving levels of dementia-friendly care in Birmingham

At West Heath Hospital in Birmingham, Willow House - a new dementia-friendly care unit – is providing a vital stepping stone back to independent living for dementia patients who have been admitted to hospital.

Reflecting latest principles in dementia-friendly care

Delivered by BaS LIFT in conjunction with Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust (BCHC), the intermediate care unit incorporates the latest principles in dementia-friendly design to provide a modern environment for 18 patients.

The project was funded by the Department of Health’s Kings Fund as part of a national pilot scheme to deliver better care environments for people with dementia.

Providing a therapeutic environment

Outside, a specialist dementia-friendly garden has been designed, providing a therapeutic environment to help stimulate the senses through the use of colour, touch and smell.

Andy Harrison, Chief Operating Officer at Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust said: “Many people with dementia find it stressful to be admitted to an inpatient facility but this ward really helps to eliminate this anxiety.”

Case study: Making dementia support more accessible in Southampton

From February 2015, a weekly dementia advice service and a support group are being run at Fareham Community Hospital in Southampton.

Providing valuable support for patients, families and carers

Launched by the Alzheimer’s Society with support from NHS Fareham and Gosport Clinical Commissioning Group, these dual services are managed by dementia adviser, Kellyn Weir and provide valuable support for people with dementia, and their families and carers.

Emphasising the need for such services, Kellyn says:A diagnosis of dementia can be a daunting and bewildering experience and many people don’t know what support is available or how to access it.

"From the beginning of someone’s journey with dementia right the way through the condition - dementia advisers are there to provide information in the right way, at the right time and signpost people to relevant support.”

Life doesn’t end when dementia begins, and CHP is working with local partners and organisations like the Alzheimer’s Society to support people living with dementia.

Follow the Dementia Awareness Campaign

This year, Dementia Awareness Week is about helping people hold onto their lives and the things they love for longer, doing new things and having new experiences. Follow the campaign on social media using #DAW2015 #DoSomethingNew.

Many people with dementia find it stressful to be admitted to an inpatient facility but the wards at West Heath Hospital really help to eliminate this anxiety.

Andy Harrison, Chief Operating Officer at Birmingham Community Healthcare NHS Trust