Dr Martin Freeman regional GP dementia lead said:
“We welcome the Dementia Community Roadshow as a vital new step in continuing to raise awareness and understanding of dementia.
The NHS in the South West is working closely with the Alzheimer’s Society and other partner organisations to improve diagnosis and care for people with dementia and essential support for their families and carers.
Help with memory problems, and early diagnosis when a person has dementia, is essential and is a key focus for work to improve dementia services in Dorset, and across the South West.
The diagnosis rate tells us how many people are on their GP’s dementia register. Just as important is that people with memory problems are confident in approaching their GP for help, that the GP recognises and understands their problems and concerns and that people are assessed to consider a number of factors that may be affecting their health. In some cases people may need to be referred to a memory assessment service for more extensive tests and diagnosis.
In all cases, people with dementia need sensitive advice, support and guidance in order to live as fully as possible, maintaining their health and their independence, and making decisions about their lives for as long as possible. Equally important are support and flexible breaks for carers and families, practical support at home, and services they can contact at any time with questions, concerns, or to ask for help.
Diagnosis rates need to improve, year on year, just as the services for people with dementia need to continue to improve. The South West Strategic Health Authority with the South West Dementia Partnership is working closely with Primary Care Trusts and GP dementia leads to ensure general practices are identifying people with memory problems, providing memory checks, and that people have easy access to memory assessment services and the right treatment and care. Programmes of training and education for GPs and their teams, and for other health and care workers are underway across the South West.
A range of resources and initiatives are being developed and are in place in the region, including a dementia diagnosis toolkit for GPs; local directories of services; the expansion of memory services; improving prescribing; and improving dementia care in hospitals. New roles are emerging in the community, including dementia advisors, carers’ advisors, and primary care liaison teams. Partners in the voluntary and community sector are running memory cafes, ‘Singing for the Brain’ groups, walking groups, and other social opportunities and support.
Memory problems and dementia are not just the concern of health and social services: the whole community needs to be involved in improving awareness and reducing the stigma that is often associated with dementia; it can be a devastating disease and it will touch the lives of most of us at some point. Much can be done by us all to support people living with it, and ensure that they live well.”