By 2021 it is predicted one million people in the UK will have dementia. In the West Midlands 62,000 people have dementia; by 2021 this figure is expected to rise by 37 per cent to more than 85,000.
In 2008 the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority (WMSHA) performed research to identify the existing strategies for care, treatment and prevention for dementia and to propose a vision and plan for the future.
This NHS West Midlands web page summarises the key points from the resulting report, which recommended the creation of a specific Dementia Team within the SHA to focus on dementia and address the seven challanges facing the region, namely:
- Widening inequalities.
- Variability in quality.
- Difficulties in navigating the system of care.
- Low public confidence.
- Too little prevention.
- Low returns on investment.
- Increasing cost pressures.
The SHA is running a number of specific projects to meet these challenges and to improve dementia care in the region.
- In Staffordshire the Take Heart project is helping people with early signs of vascular dementia in Stoke. A risk assessment process identifies people in the community who have vascular risks and mental health issues so that these people may be referred to the Take Heart, mental health and well-being service. Specialist psychiatric nurses in this service work with people with dementia to help them understand their condition and develop a plan for the future.
- New Cross Hospital (Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals Trust) is helping staff to identify patients displaying early signs of developing dementia and take steps to intervene for the better. The aim is to improve the quality of care for people with dementia in acute settings.
A two-year project began in July 2009 to improve the service at New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton. The findings of this research should, if successful, be implemented across the other West Midlands NHS Trusts.