December 13, 2013 2.02 pm This story is over 118 months old

National fightback aims to tackle dementia

Dementia care: Dan Hayes explains the importance of dementia care in Lincolnshire, and how new government funding could transform research and care approaches.

With over 800,000 people across the UK affected by dementia, understanding the condition and introducing effective techniques to provide personalised care is essential.

However, with limited funding and minimal research, this is a real challenge.

Dementia is an increasingly common condition in older people, caused by nerve transmission difficulties that gradually slow down memory processes and create communication complications.

As one of the largest UK counties, Lincolnshire is home to a high percentage of older people living with dementia. In fact, care homes across the region provide dedicated dementia care services for hundreds of residents every year – a figure that will only increase over the next decade as the number of people in the county continues to grow.

Unfortunately, dementia is not simply an ‘illness’, but rather a mental health issue. This means that it is not only incurable, but also progressive, with symptoms worsening over time. Caring for people living with dementia is, therefore expensive, as around the clock care is often essential.

Earlier this week, the government announced a proposed £68m increase in national dementia research funding as part of continued plans to develop dementia practices in the UK and revolutionise approaches.

Drawing on the expertise of international health organisations, researchers and care practitioners, this funding will be used to not only improve our understanding of the condition, but also to fund and progress care practices nationally.

On a local level, this means that residents from across Lincolnshire will hopefully benefit from a higher level of understanding of the condition, leading to improved care initiatives for hundreds of residents. This is a huge development for the care industry, with real investment finally prioritised towards elderly care.

Here at OSJCT, we pride ourselves on delivering exceptional dementia care practices and hope that this government research funding and the resulting knowledge sharing will help us to further develop our philosophy of placing the person at the centre of our support rather than their condition.

Our method is simple – we take a person centred approach. This means learning as much as possible about each of the residents in our care so that we can tailor support to suit the individual. This extends to the living environment in our communities – so, for example, we are developing themed destination zones across the county – buildings which more closely represent a person’s own home – and a range of social interactions which are resident led and involve people’s friends and communities. Taking this approach helps individuals to retain their independence and to maintain a good quality of life as far as is practical and possible.

We hope that this increased funding will help to increase awareness and knowledge about dementia across not only Lincolnshire, but our whole society. It should also mean that, we – and other care providers – will be able to take forward more widely some of the innovative initiatives we are already using to further improve the care provided for those living with dementia.

Dan Hayes is the Operations Director at The Orders of St John Care Trust (OSJCT) - a leading national not-for-profit care home provider. Operating 69 home across the UK, OSJCT provides nursing, residential and specialist dementia care to residents nationwide.