New Lancs dementia service launched

1:58pm Monday 12th July 2010

LANCASHIRE's new advice service for people with dementia has been hailed as a 'flagship' at its launch at the start of Dementia Awareness Week.

The groundbreaking My Way dementia adviser pilot project enables people who themselves have dementia to access information and advice on support and care options. It was officially launched earlier this week at the Alzheimer's Society's centre in Preston.

The dementia adviser project is being run in partnership by Lancashire County Council, NHS Central Lancashire and the Alzheimer's Society.

The new advisers will be based on four sites in central Lancashire. They will provide high quality information for people who have been diagnosed with dementia and their carers. They will also enable easy access to care, support and advice following diagnosis.

The Department of Health is currently providing funding to pilot the scheme until March 31, 2011 and is testing two models of service that are objectives of the National Dementia Strategy: peer support and dementia advisers.

Under the project, the four dementia advisers will each be responsible for the recruitment and training of five volunteers who will be based on each site. The aim of the project is to find out whether specific locations or combinations of services create a barrier to seeking help, advice and support or influence the willingness of people to enter the health and social care system.

Each site will test a specific type of service; from a multi-agency resource centre with health, to social care and voluntary sector services available to sites run solely by the Alzheimer’s Society or the NHS.

Speaking at the launch, CC Mike Calvert, Lancashire County Council's cabinet member for Adult and Community Services, said: "Once again, Lancashire is at the forefront of developing a service that responds sensitively to the needs of individual people; the dementia adviser project is a brilliant example of the county council's commitment to putting people first and providing personalised services.

"I am particularly impressed by this project because, possibly for the first time in the country, people diagnosed with dementia will receive information and support directly from an adviser, which will mean they can make informed choices about their lives.”

CC Calvert added: “I hail this strategy as a great flagship and I am proud to be a part of it.”

The service has been focused on central Lancashire to take advantage of the well-established dementia networks, partnerships, and shared vision between the county council, primary care trust and voluntary sector providers.

Alex Walker, NHS Central Lancashire's associate director for transforming community services, said: “Because we have an ageing population, our need for dementia services is set to increase. We want to ensure that dementia services in central Lancashire meet the needs of patients and carers in the future. This project, which is one of the first of its kind in the UK, is a really positive step towards doing that.

"It involves a number of people campaigning for the need for real change and puts people with dementia and their carers right at the centre of what is being done.”

“There is open access to the dementia adviser based on all of the pilot sites, where anyone can contact and refer themselves for support or advice to receive dementia care. This can be a potential route in for ongoing support or for one-off advice. Otherwise, referral will be linked to memory assessment services and patients will automatically be referred into the service after being diagnosed with dementia.”

Beverley Page Banks, Support Services Manager for the Alzheimer’s Society in Central Lancashire told the launch: “This service is being developed in direct response to one of the most clear and consistent messages from people living with dementia and carers who contributed to the National Dementia Strategy – namely a desire for there to be someone to turn to, and return to, for help and support at any stage.

"Today is a very special day. It is the result of people working together for the benefit of those people living with dementia in Lancashire. The theme of this year’s Dementia Week is ‘Remember the Person’. It highlights the challenges faced by people living with dementia but at the same time, reminds us that life with dementia can be manageable and enjoyable."

Judith Culshaw, the Deputy Chief Executive of Age Concern, Central Lancashire, said: "Dementia Advisers will play a crucial role in ensuring people living with dementia and their carers have easy access to information and support to enable them to make the most of their lives.

"The Partnerships forged by this new service - with representatives from the statutory, independent and voluntary sectors - will ensure the success of this project."

The dementia advisers will be based at Charnley Fold Resource Centre in Bamber Bridge, the Oakbridge Extra Care Housing scheme in Buckshaw Village, Chorley, the Alzheimer's Society base and resource centre in Preston and Bickerstaff House at Ormskirk Hospital.

There are already a number of joint initiatives operating across central Lancashire designed to improve dementia care and advice services. For example, the Charnley Fold Resource Centre offers an integrated enhanced day care service, memory assessment service and a caring café service provided by the voluntary sector.

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