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The Challenge of Dementia – Part II

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approaches to dementia care, carers, communication, dementia awareness

Dementia is the perfect subject for Health and Wellbeing Boards to address. The Nottinghamshire Board is made up of County and District Councillors and Lead GPs from the 6 Clinical Commissioning Groups, plus others…

Nottinghamshire now has a new County-wide ‘Framework for Action for Dementia’ and this was adopted by the Health and Wellbeing Board on 4 May [1]. The plan aims to improve care for people with dementia, building on the stakeholder event held in November, meetings with carers and people with dementia, and the rather enormous Prime Minister’s Challenge Implementation Plan.

So how will this bring about improvements? There are 5 main areas.

First, the plan wants to make people aware that there is something they can do to reduce the risk of getting dementia, and that is to adopt a more healthy lifestyle, especially increasing physically activity, of whatever kind. Essentially ‘What’s good for the heart is good for the brain!’ If you would like help with this, see Public Health England’s One You campaign [2]

Secondly, the plan aims to make sure that GPs continue to refer people for a diagnosis and ensure that practices know who they are. The process of getting a diagnosis for dementia is very much about the person and their relative or friend telling their story – it’s this narrative, rather than a CT scan which will determine the diagnosis and what may then be most helpful.

Thirdly, after diagnosis, it’s important to improve the care available: better information (for people with dementia and carers), better communication (within the NHS and between the NHS and social care) and better education (especially health and social care staff – but just about anyone really). Nottinghamshire is keen to consider and support new ways of helping people to stay at home for longer and new ways of living such as the Extra Care housing development at Poppyfields which has been done in conjunction with Mansfield District Council [3]

Fourthly, there is now more awareness of the importance of carers. New research and new approaches are being trialled across the country. Nottinghamshire has commissioned a range of different services for carers, including the Compass workers who help support carers of people with moderate or severe dementia living at home. All referrals are made via the Older People’s Community Mental Health Teams. The staff provide practical and emotional support to help carers remain in their caring role, should they wish, for as long as possible. The service is unique because all the Compass workers have been family carers themselves and that makes a difference. This is reflected in the comments from carers:

‘It really helps that you understand how I’m feeling.’

‘To be told my reactions are normal is very reassuring….after our talks I always feel better about what I’m doing.’

And finally, the plan aims to promote Dementia Friends (for individuals) and Dementia Friendly Communities (for communities and organisations) [4]. We can all become Dementia Friends and all the organisations who are members of the Health & Wellbeing Board are being encouraged to make their organisations Dementia Friendly, including GP practices. District Councils have shown that they are keen and willing to support this, for example, Broxtowe Borough Council is one council that has already pledged to make their area a Dementia Friendly Community [5].

Will this new framework make a difference? Watch this space!



1. http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/care/health-and-wellbeing/health-and-wellbeing-board
2. https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou#MIj8QV84uvrXHclf.97
3. http://www.nottinghamshire.gov.uk/care/adult-social-care/somewhere-to-live/extra-care-housing/extra-care-housing-schemes
4. https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk/
5. http://www.broxtowe.gov.uk/dementia

Gill Oliver

Senior Public Health Manager

May 2016

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