Health and Wellbeing
Devon County Council and Alzheimer's Society provide new Dementia Support Workers
Posted on: 15 November 2012
Being told that you or a family member has dementia can be a worrying and upsetting time, but in a new move, Devon County Council is working with Alzheimer’s Society to support people to live well with the condition.
With more emphasis now on the benefits of early diagnosis, the Council and Alzheimer’s Society have launched a scheme that will allocate trained Dementia Support Workers to people at diagnosis, to work with them and their families, helping them find their way through the wide range of support available.
“It’s difficult enough knowing how best to cope when you’ve been given a diagnosis like this,” says Cllr Stuart Barker, who has Cabinet responsibility for the new service.
“For people who have had no previous reason to know what support’s available to them and their carer, it can be daunting.
“Having a single Dementia Support Worker allocated to them, who knows the disease and understands the concerns that people will have, and who knows what support’s locally available, is going to be of enormous benefit and reassurance to them.”
Alzheimer’s Society support the view, saying families take great comfort in knowing that they have someone to go to for information and advice.
June Turnbull from Tedburn St. Mary, near Exeter, cares for her husband Ken, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s six months ago. She says:
‘When Ken was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s it was a really confusing and worrying time.
“Not knowing where to turn for help, we contacted Alzheimer’s Society. They put us in touch with Trevor our Dementia Support Worker who has been a real lifeline.
“It’s been helpful to talk to people who understand and find out about what support is available to us.”
Run for the Council by the charity, the new service will include a hotline; a central number to which all calls will go to trained Dementia Advisers who will be able to respond to most enquiries immediately. The number will be promoted before the service starts in January 2013.
Dementia Support Workers will be based in communities across Devon, and supporting them will be a large number of volunteers who will also be working closely with individuals and their carers.
Alzheimer’s Society previously had just two part-time Dementia Support Workers covering the whole of Devon, supporting a network of local services and offering limited one to one support to people affected by dementia.
Trevor Twinley, Dementia Support Worker, for the charity said:
“I’m thrilled that thanks to the Council’s investment, Alzheimer’s Society will be able to reach out to more people living with dementia in Devon.
“People with dementia and their families can often feel isolated. Having a named contact, providing one to one support, empowers people to take control and make decisions about how they want to live their lives to full.
“There are currently 13,212 people with dementia in Devon but only 32.6% have a formal diagnosis. Without a diagnosis people cannot access the information, support and treatments they need to live well. If anyone is worried about their memory, or that of someone they care about, don’t delay in seeking help – speak to their GP.”
Dr Nick Cartmell, GP lead for Dementia at NHS Devon and NHS South of England (West), said:
“This new service, designed to support people with dementia and their carers to live well with dementia, will make a huge difference to the quality of dementia care in Devon and empower such people to manage their personal situations more effectively.
“By commissioning this service from the Alzheimer’s Society, NHS Devon and Devon County Council are developing a stronger partnership with the UK’s largest and most experienced dementia charity.
“The service commissioned locally draws on the best bits of similar services already in existence elsewhere in the country, and having this service in place puts Devon ahead of many other areas of the South West.
“I have no doubt that this is a huge step in the right direction for dementia care in the county and will have far-reaching benefits.”
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