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Ways of integrating care highlighted

Ways of integrating health and social care for the benefit of dementia patients were highlighted at a conference.

Ways of integrating health and social care for the benefit of patients who have dementia were highlighted at a conference


Care and attention must be given early on in diagnosis of Alzheimers. Picture: iStock

The Alzheimer’s Society Annual Conference 2017 heard from experts in bringing together the NHS and community care services.

Under the spotlight was the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, which is in charge of a £6 billion health and social care budget under its devolved powers.

Former health minister Hazel Blears, who is a trustee of the society, spoke at the session.

Political influence

She told of how her own experience with her mother, who had dementia, inspired her to use her ‘political influence’ to lobby for the Salford’s £50 million integrated health and social care budget.

Her mother, who at the time was otherwise healthy, had to go into a care home because her father, who was her main carer, endured a long wait for back treatment. As a result, her mother lost 9lbs in weight and was admitted to the ED for dehydration. She said no one knew her father was the main carer and the impact it would have.

Ms Blears said the home is now shut down but added: ‘We lost probably a year or 18 months of my mum’s life that she would have had.’

Jeanette Leach, integrated neighbourhood manager for Tameside and Glossop Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust, was also a speaker at the event.

She told how Rochdale Infirmary’s Oasis Unit had reduced length of stays from the average of 13.25 days to 7.5.

Comfortability

The Oasis Unit introduced RemPods, originally an idea on BBC’s Dragon’s Den, which are pop-up canvases with themes including a pub and a ballroom. The idea is to make patients with dementia feel comfortable, boost conversation and allow them to reminisce.

Outside of Manchester, Care Home Vanguard Sutton programme director Viccie Nelson spoke of how the introduction of a simple ‘red bag’ can also reduce length of stay and ensure patients get the care they need.

The bag contains all the vital information about a patient’s health such as any existing conditions and current health concerns and medication, and their personal belongings. It also states that they are a care home resident to potentially allow earlier discharge from hospital.

Ms Nelson said the bag, which goes with on hospital stays or in ambulances, tells staff ‘what is different about them’.

‘We have helped to reduce unnecessary hospital stays,’ said Ms Nelson.

'Public health problem'

Speaking to the conference as a whole, NHS England chair Sir Malcolm Grant said the country was watching what was happening at a city-level in Manchester. He said sustainability and transformation programmes were bringing integration in elsewhere.

He said dementia was a public health problem, but also a ‘social phenomenon’ because of its impact on families, carers and wider society.

‘Dementia is a public health problem. It’s a problem where we need to be focused much more on early diagnosis, prevention and enabling people to live well with dementia,’ he said.


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