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Working together for excellent healthcare in North Norfolk and rural Broadland

PRESS TO HEAR

Dementia Packs Offer Information and Advice

18th May 2015

                                                                 Dementia packs offer information and advice

Every person in Norfolk diagnosed with dementia will be offered information and advice on the range of support available to them as part of a new countywide project to help patients and their carers cope with the life-changing impact of the illness.

Being told that you or a loved one has dementia can be a traumatic and worrying time.

But from this month, anyone in Norfolk diagnosed with the condition will be offered a pack containing details of the free help and support available to patients and carers.

The aim is to address some of the fears and anxiety diagnosis brings, and to provide answers to the most commonly asked questions.

The packs have been jointly produced as part of a trial project led by NHS North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group in collaboration with the Carers Agency Partnership, Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK Norfolk, Norfolk County Council Library and Information Service, Healthwatch Norfolk, and Wells Community Hospital. They were collated by a team of Alzheimer’s Society volunteers at their office in Stody in North Norfolk.

The packs will be issued by the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s Memory Assessment Service, where patients are referred by their GP for expert assessment and diagnosis. Packs are also to be distributed to GP practices, local dementia support groups and information hubs, for anyone with a recent diagnosis.

Each pack contains:

  • The Norfolk Carers Handbook
  • Information and advice from Alzheimer’s Society
  • Specialist information about living with dementia
  • Information and advice from Age UK
  • Information about resources available through your local library
  • A special safeguarding ‘key’ – a clever but simple resource on which someone with memory problems can write their name and contact details in case they become lost or disorientated

Inspired by the ‘bounty packs’ given to expectant and new mums, the dementia packs are designed to address the lack of information available to patients following diagnosis.

It follows the Dementia Health Needs Assessment, published in July 2014 by Norfolk County Council Public Health, which highlighted inconsistencies in the provision of information and support to newly-diagnosed patients and their carers across the county.

Susan Brand, dementia support manager for the Alzheimer’s in Norfolk, said: “At difficult times, we all want to know there is someone there to help us. Receiving a diagnosis of dementia is certainly one of those times but unfortunately the reality for a lot of people has been that they’ve not known where to turn.

“These new packs will change this picture and open the door to the huge amounts of support and information that is available to people with dementia and carers across Norfolk.

‘With the right support, it is possible to live well with dementia and there is no time better than Dementia Awareness Week to be getting that message across. Through initiatives like this and the ongoing push by organisations, including Alzheimer’s Society, to make Norfolk more dementia friendly, we can ensure that life doesn’t end when dementia begins.”

The packs form part of the work that has been taking place for the past two years as part of the Living Well With Dementia (LWWD) programme in North Norfolk.

Since the programme began, diagnosis rates in North Norfolk have improved to 58.5% and are continuing to rise, and its partner organisations have played a key role in developing ‘dementia friendly communities’ – the latest being Wells-next-the-Sea.

Dr Nicola Pinching, who chairs the LWWD project group that developed the packs, said: “We have been constantly advised there is not enough information available to patients and their carers following diagnosis of dementia. The packs have been designed to address this.

“They provide a wide range of information, ranging from clinical information on the different types of dementia and medicines that may be beneficial for some patients, through to contact details for local support groups and charities.

“Producing the packs has been a huge team effort, with several organisations contributing their ideas and expertise. Hopefully this trial will prove successful and the packs will become a vital part of the care and support offered to all dementia patients and their carers.”   

The initiative comes nine months after NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens reaffirmed a pledge to improve dementia diagnosis rates across the UK and provide more emotional and practical support to patients, their families and carers.

To mark Dementia Awareness Week 2015, which runs from May 17 to 25, a number of events will be taking place across the UK. For more information, log on to the Alzheimer’s Society website or visit http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/remembertheperson

  • Information about the care and support on offer to dementia patients and carers in North Norfolk and rural Broadland will be available at an event in Sheringham on Monday, June 1. More than 20 local organisations will be represented at the free event at Sheringham Community Centre in Holway Road from 1.30pm to 4pm.
  • For more information on the event, click here.

Picture caption: Susan Brand (standing centre) and Alzheimer’s Society volunteers (from left) Barbara Alexander, Colin Moir, and Jackie Spode with some of the hundreds of dementia packs they helped to collate at the charity’s office in Stody, North Norfolk.

For more information, contact Max Bennett on 01603 595873 or max.bennett [at] nelcsu.nhs.uk