Dementia awareness raising in Wiltshire

ContactRhian Bennett, Programme Lead - Carers / Commissioning Manager for Dementia, Wiltshire Council
Telephone01225 712554
AddressCounty Hall, Bythesea Rd, Trowbridge, Wiltshire BA14 8JN

What is being done?
Wiltshire Council’s Dementia Strategy Group have produced a DVD to improve early recognition of memory problems for people who may be reluctant to approach their GP. The DVD called ‘There is nothing wrong with my memory!’ features a range of people talking, including people with dementia, Carers, GP, dementia awareness trainer, and is a tool which can be used to help someone who is concerned about their memory, or who needs support to consider whether they might have an issue with their memory. It explains that their experience doesn’t necessarily mean dementia, as there can be different reasons for memory problems, but that they can talk to their GP about this if they are worried.

It is also useful to help staff learn about the different memory concerns and issues there can be and where to signpost people for further advice, information and support. In this way it offers an informal education opportunity to staff who may otherwise not have contact with or access to learning about dementia and memory problems.

In addition, Wiltshire have adapted the Devon Carers Pathway for local use, and have created a booklet, called ‘Caring for someone with dementia’ which is widely available to carers and people with dementia. This includes a section which outlines the sorts of questions carers should be asking prior to the discharge of their cared-for, information on powers of attorney, the mental capacity act and choosing a care home. The informal learning opportunity that the handbook offers gives carers and staff an accessible route to learning more about the services and support available in Wiltshire that are available to people with dementia and their carers, as well as offering advice and information that can assist with living with dementia.

New Role or Function
Using a DVD which is easy to understand and accessible is a new way to promote health and improve recognition of memory problems which may be dementia related. It is a way to increase early detection and improve diagnosis rates, and is innovative in offering a familiar route to doing this. Providing people with the opportunity to think for themselves about their concerns, facilitated by the DVD also means they are able to take on board the messages in a setting which is familiar to them (their home) rather than in a clinical service. This more user friendly way of supporting people is seen to be beneficial in normalising the experiences of people with concerns about their memory.

The handbook is being used in the delivery of staff training to community health teams, hospital ward staff and adult care staff as a resource that can be used as a basis for discussion and as a resource that staff can use in their daily practice.

What has been achieved?
Circulation of the DVD includes GP’s, libraries, care homes, adult care, social care and health staff, community neighbourhood teams, carers support, Alzheimer’s Society. There are plans for it to be distributed via Women’s Institute and Rotary Clubs.

Over 2000 copies of the carers’ booklet have been distributed across Wiltshire. Services identified in the handbook have been in touch to say they are receiving more requests of help from people who learnt about their services via the handbook. It is a recommended way for people to learn about the services available to help live with dementia, as well as providing valuable support to carers. Other areas in the South West have already used content from the booklet in developing information in their own localities.

Feedback from one carer who used the booklet to prepare for her mother’s discharge from hospital reported that staff were pleasantly surprised at her level of preparation and knowledge. They stated that they had not considered all of the questions raised themselves and as a result additional work was undertaken to ensure that the full preparation for discharge was undertaken.