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Written Statement - Developing and Improving Services for Dementia Sufferers in Wales

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Edwina Hart, Minister for Health and Social Services

This Statement highlights the Welsh Assembly Government’s commitment to develop services for people with dementia, ensuring that in Wales, people with dementia are supported and receive the help, dignity and respect that they deserve.  I will also take this opportunity to update you on the significant progress that has been made in identifying the steps needed to improve dementia services in Wales. 

 

In Wales there are currently around 37,000 people living with dementia, we know this will increase year on year.  This has significant consequences for carers, for health and social care, other public services and society more widely. 

 

Last month I launched the National Dementia Vision for Wales, which aims to ensure Wales has communities that support people with dementia. Communities that articulate the voice of people affected by dementia, where services are accessible and responsive to the needs of the community they seek to serve. It outlines the commitments the Welsh Assembly Government and our partners are making to improve dementia services in Wales.  We have already made significant progress in delivering the commitments in the vision document, and by 2012 these will all have been delivered. 

 

I also launched a dedicated dementia helpline and website, which offers emotional support and advice to anyone who has been diagnosed with dementia, or for relatives and carers of people with dementia. I have funded the Book Prescription Wales scheme which ensures there are books available to people with dementia and their carers in every library in Wales, and agreed to fund dementia information packs for those diagnosed with dementia with the Alzheimer’s Society.

 

Additionally last year I provided new recurrent funding of £1million per annum to establish additional dedicated dementia resources and co-ordinators within Older People Community Mental Health Teams, and £0.5 million to develop new Young Onset Dementia services across Wales.  I am pleased to say bids have been agreed and LHBs with their partners are working to implement these improvements.

 

I wrote to you in July 2010, describing how I charged the NHS with delivering real change to those diagnosed with dementia and their carers. I explained that the Mental Health Programme Board will now provide the direction and leadership to drive these changes forward, and the Local Health Boards, within the Annual Quality Framework Targets, will implement the Intelligent Targets for dementia. The Intelligent targets will drive  service improvements including reducing time between onset of symptoms and diagnosis, quality of care on  both general hospital wards and in dementia in patient units , improve prescribing practice for people with dementia and improve and support quality of life for the carers of people with dementia.

 

The Mental Health and Programme Board is driving this agenda forward, providing the momentum to improve service development and delivery.  It has made good progress to date; a Dementia sub-group of the Mental Health Programme Board is now established.    

 

Another goal is to improve training capacity and expertise of those who work with dementia patients to improve practice, and make a real difference to the quality of life of people with dementia and their care-givers.   To that end an additional £400k was made available in this financial year and the next financial year to improve information and training on dementia.    A raft of training will be delivered which will be delivered to a variety of people, such as telecare staff, family care-givers, GPs, and in general hospitals, care homes and community settings.   

 

My Medical Director and Chief Nursing Officer have written to all LHB Chief Executives on dementia care in general hospital settings on 8 February. Dr Chris Jones discussed the care of people with dementia on hospital wards with all the medical directors in NHS Wales on 4 March. They agreed to work with the dementia training agenda and ensure that people with dementia are cared for with dignity and respect in all settings, especially the general hospital wards when the additional problem of physical health problems make individuals even more vulnerable and in need of care and attention.

 

For older dementia sufferers in particular being able to stay in your own home in familiar surroundings if possible can be very comforting.    The Welsh Assembly Government recognises the importance of this for older people in Wales and provides funding of £4.9 million in 201/11 and £4.7 million in 2011/12 for  Care and Repair, which assists older people to carry out improvements to their homes, which will enable them to stay in their own homes.  This approach,  along with  Extra Care  housing schemes with 24 hour care cover  that offers the potential to meet the needs of people with dementia which less supported forms of housing cannot, now provide in 18 schemes over 867 homes where people can maintain their independence and this is something we can be proud of.  A further 18 schemes are under construction or at an advanced stage of planning giving a total programme of 1,600 homes.

 

All this work has been achieved by working in partnership, and I want to thank all those who have contributed to the process including those who worked on the expert groups. I would also like to thank those who continue to give dementia sufferers compassionate care, and to work wholeheartedly to deliver a better experience of care to individuals and their families who despite this illness can live life with possibilities. 

 

There is always more to do, however, the Welsh Assembly Government has demonstrated its clear leadership, commitment and support to improve dementia services in Wales through additional financial investment, the establishment of a Mental Health Programme Board and clear targets to drive this forward, with the launch of the Vision document.