Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Challenge on Dementia

Co-Director, Heather Wilkinson, has had her collaborative research project, Healthbridge, included as a case study in the Prime Minister's Challenge on Dementia.
According to a recent Alzheimer’s Society’s report, three-quarters of people in the UK feel that society is not geared up to deal with dementia. It also found that three in five (61 per cent) people diagnosed with dementia are left feeling lonely, four in five (77 per cent) feel anxious or depressed and nearly half (44 per cent) have lost friends.
The PM has announced his commitment to make the UK a world-leader in dementia research and care, saying that not enough is known about the disease and has set out how the UK Government will lead on research in this area.
Healthbridge is an evaluation of the English Dementia Strategy. The strategy stresses the importance of promoting the quality of life and well-being of those living with dementia and their carers. As part of the implementation of the Strategy, dementia advisers and peer support networks were established in 40 demonstrator sites across England. These have developed a range of different methods and approaches for enhancing the well-being and increasing the resilience of those living with the disease. The Healthbridge evaluation aims to:
  • describe the range of dementia adviser and peer support organisational models developed; and their evolution, management and governance.
  • evaluate the impact of the new service models in terms of:
    • the well-being of patients and carers
    • their contribution to the objective of the Strategy
    • the integration, sustainability and transferability of the organisational models involved
  • examine in depth the patient/carer experience of the new service models, in respect of increasing accessibility, improving involvement and information, enhancing support for making choices, and increasing independence.
The study began on 1 April 2010 and is due to complete in September 2012. Interim findings indicate:
  • strengthened partnership working;
  • increased awareness of dementia on the part of providers;
  • support provided being seen to fill a 'gap' in existing provision;
  • a perceived reduction in carer stress;
  • appreciation from other providers of the value of the new services;
  • a reduction in demand for statutory services; and
  • a network built on commonality of experience.

Led by University of Edinburgh the Healthbridge team have been brought together from Edinburgh University and Glamorgan University. 
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

“Dementia is one of the biggest challenges we face as a society and we are determined to transform the quality of dementia care for patients and their families. In England today there are an estimated 670,000 people living with dementia, a number that is increasing with one in three people set to develop dementia in the future.
“That is why the Challenge sets out the Government’s ambition to increase diagnosis rates, to raise awareness and understanding and to strengthen substantially our research efforts so we can help those living with dementia have a better quality of life.”

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