Money for new dementia schemes

A million pounds is being ploughed into new dementia care schemes in Norfolk and Suffolk, as the two counties work together to tackle one of the biggest health challenges they face.

The number of people with dementia is predicted to rise by 51pc in the next 15 years, but in Norfolk the number is

expected to increase by 62pc in that time – pushing the total to above 20,000 – and in Suffolk by 65pc.

Last year the Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance was launched in a bid to bring together all the health, education social care, private and voluntary organisations working in this area.

The aim of the alliance is to seek out the best research, technology and training to make East Anglia a leader, nationally and internationally, in dementia care.

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By working together, the alliance's partners hope to cut out duplication, improve pathways of care for people with dementia and reduce any postcode lottery that currently exists by rolling out the most successful schemes across the two counties.

The Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance started out life as a health partnership called the Norfolk and Waveney Health Innovation and Education Cluster (HIEC), which bid for some money from the Department of Health.

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It was one of the 17 successful applicants across the country and was awarded �650,000 to use research and innovation, such as assistive technologies, to help the area's ageing population by improving services.

Now Norfolk and Suffolk county councils have stumped up around �200,000 each, and along with around �350,000 of the HIEC funding the money has now been approved for a series of schemes across the two counties.

These include new dementia cafes, hospital dementia care co-ordinators, a dementia-focused revamp of a hospital ward, reminiscence therapy training, and new physical activity groups for people with dementia.

David Edwards, chairman of the Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance, said: 'This investment makes a major step forward in improving all types of dementia services, both in Norfolk and Suffolk.

'This reflects the powerful alliance of all partners which is so crucial in making significant progress for our population.'

In addition to the �750,000 investment, and funds committed to the ongoing work of creating an integrated 'whole system' approach, the Norfolk County Workforce Group, an NHS group aimed at developing the healthcare workforce, is putting in �130,000 of funding for a new postgraduate certificate in dementia leadership at the University of East Anglia over the next two years.

This will enable senior nurses, or health, social or residential care workers at a similar senior level to learn more about how to deliver excellent quality care for people with dementia.

The recent �1m investment is in addition to the �1.2m already invested in dementia related pilot projects such as creating dementia intensive support teams and dementia primary care practitioners funded by the primary care trust.

Willie Cruickshank, of the dementia alliance, said: 'Things have got a lot better in the past two or three years in terms of how we recognise dementia but we have a long way to go.

'Times are tight and we need to not just improve what we are doing, but also improve the way we are doing it.

'I firmly believe we need to invest in great crisis prevention.'

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