NHS Kent and Medway, Kent County Council and Medway Council have won £1.2 million in funding from NHS South of England’s Dementia Challenge Fund for four new projects to help patients with dementia in Kent and Medway.

The projects will support patients with dementia in hospital, train GPs in early diagnosis, train hospital and care home staff, reduce anti psychotic prescriptions and improve the life of dementia patients by developing dementia friendly communities.
Evelyn White, Associate Director Integrated Commissioning for NHS Kent and Medway, said: “We are pleased to announce we have won funding for four new projects to help those living with dementia in Kent and Medway.

“The projects will provide training and support for GPs, hospitals and care home staff, as well as help services, businesses and communities understand how to support those living with dementia.

“There is still a great deal of stigma around dementia. It’s important to talk about it openly and support those living with dementia to help them feel part of communities and reduce the loneliness and social isolation they often experience.”

Kent County Council Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, Graham Gibbens, said: “This funding will make a real difference to people with dementia, raise awareness of the condition and the importance of early diagnosis. It will be an opportunity to improve treatment and provide better support to those with dementia and their families.”

Medway Council’s Portfolio Holder for Adult Services, Cllr David Brake said: “We’re delighted that additional funding has been made available to help us increase support for people with dementia and their carers.

“Medway Council and NHS Kent and Medway are already working with the Alzheimer’s Society in commissioning jointly funded dementia cafes and peer support groups in Medway, and these new projects will help us to build on that work and improve health, social care and community based services.”

Memory assessment

Many patients worried about their memory go to their GPs for help and early diagnosis gives those with dementia time to make informed choices about their future.
The ‘Primary Care Early Detection and Support Services for Dementia’ project will provide GPs across Kent and Medway with specialist memory assessment training, a new software assessment tool and support from GP-based community mental health nurses.
GPs will be trained in how to diagnose dementia symptoms at an early stage, identify those most at risk, differentiate between dementia, delirium and depression and prescribing medication.

Care homes and anti psychotic drugs

Being in hospital can increase confusion, result in challenging behaviours and increase being prescribed anti psychotic drugs. Reducing anxiety for people with dementia is key to reducing prescriptions of anti psychotic drugs.
Around half of inpatient admissions for mental health beds for older people come from care homes. The ‘Improving Community Care and Reducing the Prescription of Anti psychotic Drugs’ project will develop leadership skills for care home managers, train care home staff in dementia care mapping and encourage dementia champions. This will increase understanding of dementia and how to alleviate distress.

Intermediate care staff will also receive training from dementia clinical practioners and hospital geriatricians will provide support and advice to community hospitals and care homes.

Hospitals

Hospital treatment can have a significant and detrimental effect on people with dementia. The lack of social interaction and loss of independence can cause challenging behaviour.

Good training can help people caring for patients with dementia while in hospital. The ‘Improving the Patient Experience in Acute Hospital Settings’ project will set up a buddy scheme of trained volunteers to work alongside ward staff. They will offer company and activities to people with dementia and encourage and help with feeding and drinking. They will also help families get support and information.

Staff, clinical and non-clinical, such as porters and catering assistants, will be given dementia training. Also, wards will be improved with better lighting and floor areas to help people with dementia find their way around the hospital.

Community

People living with dementia often find it difficult to feel part of their community. In the next two years, 12 communities in Kent and one in Medway will be identified and helped to become dementia friendly.

The ‘Dementia Friendly Communities’ project will train and educate service providers, businesses and leisure facilities to become more dementia aware to increase social opportunities for people living with dementia.

This will help raise awareness of dementia, reduce stigma, prevent isolation and loneliness, while increasing support and giving a better experience when out and about in the community.

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