Dementia is the leading cause of death in the UK, and 1 in 4 people over the age of 65 in the UK are living with some form of dementia. With life expectancy rising, the challenge of treating and caring for those with dementia will grow ever larger. Residents of Northumberland have a life expectancy which is higher than the UK average and this makes the challenge even more pressing for Northumbria. Also, Northumberland is a large county with a mix of urban and rural populations making equity of access difficult.
Northumbria has developed an integrated dementia strategy and plan. Formed around evidence based guidance, the strategy is underpinned by a commitment to the values of dignity, respect and importantly, patient empowerment. Patients are able to make choices regarding their own care needs thus maximising opportunities for independence and improved quality of life. The integrated dementia strategy and plan includes:
- Mental Health Services for Older People: Brings diagnostic facilities and treatment for physical and mental health conditions to patients within a single purpose-built facility;
- Partnership: Working with the community and voluntary sector to raise awareness of the symptoms of dementia amongst GP’s and the benefits of access to a quality and timely diagnosis, particularly in rural areas;
- Dementia-friendly Facilities: Including in-patient and residential care services which help patients to maintain their independence to the greatest extent possible while being cared for;
- Online Training: For staff around different aspects of caring for someone with dementia as well as recognising the symptoms of the condition;
- Dementia Awareness Scheme: All staff are trained in recognising dementia;
- Behaviour Support Service: For people with dementia who display behavioural and psychological symptoms that causes them distress, or poses a risk to them and others.
- Nursing and Residential Home Liaison: For people over the age of 65 living in care homes who experience mental health problems including dementia, the team provide education and advice about a range of issues including end of life dementia care and delirium;
- Hospital treatment and assessment: For people over 65 diagnosed with dementia whose condition has worsened suddenly
- The Early Onset Dementia Service: Community health services for people under 65 years diagnosed with dementia. This team consists of a community psychiatric nurse and support worker with input from a consultant psychiatrist and a consultant psychologist;
- Day Hospital: Out patient service including assessment, treatment and monitoring of patients with mental health problems, including dementia.
- Memory Clinic: Outpatient service for patients and families including the assessment and treatment of memory problems associated with dementia;
- Integrated Services: To prevent unnecessary hospital admissions and keep dementia patients safe and well, including telecare, telehealth and rapid response.
- Northumbria’s dementia nursing team was recognised at the Nursing Times Awards;
- Earlier diagnosis has led to prompt and more effective care;
- Increased patient independence and dignity
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