Dementia hub network plan for Norfolk and Suffolk

Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance launch event in Norwich. Willie Cruickshank of Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia...

Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance launch event in Norwich. Willie Cruickshank of Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance.Photo: Steve Adams

A network of dementia education hubs are set to be created across Norfolk and Suffolk to help improve awareness and support for the condition, which affects one in four people over the age of 65.

The director of Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance yesterday said the organisation was looking to invest £200,000 in helping to establish around 30 community dementia learning hubs across the two counties to give more support to patients and their carers.

Willie Cruickshank told a Norfolk Older Peoples' Forum meeting that the organisation was working with other charities such as Age UK, the Alzheimer's Society and Sue Ryder Care to help establish the hubs within a 15 mile radius of each other to raise awareness of dementia. He added that the hubs would aim to build on places that already had dementia cafes and had become or were becoming dementia friendly communities such as Wymondham, Swaffham and Wells.

'We believe that no one should be more than 20 minutes from one of these hubs and we want to support and strengthen what they are already doing and get those community hubs to work together to learn from each other. You can live in one town and get great support, but get nothing in another town,' he said.

Mr Cruickshank said that the number of people living with dementia in Norfolk was set to rise from more than 13,000 to more than 20,000 by 2025 as the county's population gets older. He added that better knowledge of the condition would help increase dementia diagnosis rates, which vary from 33pc in West Norfolk to 51pc in the Great Yarmouth and Waveney area. He said that whilst dementia was one of the biggest worries for people as they get older, only 3.8p was spent on dementia research compared with every £1 spent on cancer research.

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'We can not have our heads buried in the sand any more and we have to make Norfolk and Suffolk best equipped to look after people. We are about to enter year five of the government's dementia strategy, but we have not got that far,' he said.

The meeting also heard that the North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group had launched a 'living well with dementia' project, which included a pilot with five GP practices to test patients with a series of spatial awareness tests on an iPad, which could help increase diagnosis rates. Only 40pc of people living with dementia in north Norfolk are believed to have a diagnosis.

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