Devon dementia care is good, but more education is needed

Posted on: 16 March 2017

Awareness of dementia, its diagnosis and care for people with the condition is fantastic in Devon, but it’s inconsistent across the county, says a report to Councillors next week.

A report to Devon County Council’s People’s Scrutiny Committee next Monday, 20 March, examines the progress made on Devon’s multi-agency strategy for supporting people with dementia and their families or carers.

It also looks at why Devon has more people in residential care with dementia than comparator authority areas, and at how local communities are playing a growing part in helping people living with dementia and their carers.

The task group behind the report says that there have been fantastic developments over the last decade in dementia awareness, diagnosis, care and carers support, and that medical professionals have a much greater understanding and awareness of dementia when it presents.  Professionals are better able therefore to offer advice and signposting at an earlier stage.

They say community support in many areas of Devon is excellent, and that memory cafes have been a huge success needing relatively little funding upfront and then becoming self-supporting.  They provide good value, the report says.

However the County Council still needs to work to support communities and external organisations promoting dementia friendly activities.

One of the challenges is in ensuring that there is a consistency of provision across Devon.

The task group took evidence from experiences across the county.  The success of the work happening in towns such as Honiton is clear, say members, but other communities need to be galvanised to do the same.

Prevention through education is key to reducing demand for services in future. Greater dementia awareness and education is still needed amongst the general public, but also for County Council staff and members, particularly around the different types of dementia and the possible contributory factors.

Councillor Sara Randall Johnson, Chairman of the Spotlight Review said:

“The impact that dementia has on the lives of those who are living with the condition and their family is massive yet can be little understood outside the family. This light touch report is part of ongoing work to encourage more people to be aware of dementia and how it can change lives so radically.

“There is some excellent work being carried out in Devon to provide support and spread awareness in the community. The County Council is well placed through its networks to help facilitate reaching all parts of Devon. As we all know one body cannot do this work alone but by drawing as many partners together such as memory cafes, dementia alliances and district authorities as examples of how support can be provided.”

The Task Group’s recommendations include:

•      That the County Council continues to roll out a programme of dementia awareness training, encouraging all members and staff to become Dementia Friends.

•      That a refresh of the mapping on the Dementia Roadmap for Devon website is undertaken to evaluate the level of community support for dementia across Devon.

•      That as a landlord, Devon Farm Estates Committee considers the finding of Plymouth University’s recent research into the impact of dementia on the farming community and how it might affect the County Council’s tenants.

•      That learning from the memory cafes, Dementia Friendly Communities and Dementia Friends approach is extended to Learning Disability services.

The report will be presented to the People’s Scrutiny Committee from 2pm on Monday 20 March 2017. Members of the public are welcome to attend or the meeting can be watched live or at any future time, online. The final report of the spotlight review is also available online to download.

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