Local GPs partner with leading dementia charity to improve support for patients and families

GPs in the Vale of York have joined forces with a leading local charity to improve the support on offer for people who may have dementia and those who care for them.
doctor speaking to patient

Doctors are now able to refer patients ahead of diagnosis to Dementia Forward, which supports people living with dementia and their families across York and North Yorkshire.

In a series of videos released during Dementia Action Week (May 17-23), local GPs reflect on the work being done to meet the growing challenge of dementia, which is becoming one of the most important health and care issues facing the world.

Across the Vale of York, specialist Dementia Care Coordinators have been appointed to work from GP practices – some in partnership with Dementia Forward – to provide a clear and accessible point of contact for guidance, support and navigation, working closely with other health, social care organisations and voluntary agencies.

A multi-agency group has also been working to develop a strategy for dementia care in York. Details of the strategy will be announced next month along with an independent survey on the plans to help inform their development.

As a GP I recognise the need for patients to be diagnosed early with dementia for those who care for them to be supported sooner. We’re pleased to announce that GPs will be able to offer support from Dementia Forward right from the point where they’re first referred for a diagnosis. It’s the first of several steps to improve dementia care here in York.
— Dr Daniel Kimberling

Dr Helena Ebbs, a GP partner at Pickering Medical Practice and member of the Governing Body of NHS Vale of York Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “The role of our Dementia Care Coordinators is to help you navigate being diagnosed or to help you navigate problems that come up with dementia along the way. It might be that you’ve got anxieties around attending an appointment, or difficulties with things like care packages or access to services.

“They also help me a great deal as a doctor because they unravel problems, they can talk to social care and the community mental health team, and they act as a liaison point between myself and voluntary-sector organisations supporting people with dementia.”

We are proactively looking for people who have slipped through the net and haven’t received a diagnosis when they need one or should have one, and to support people at pre-diagnosis through the process to ensure that they’re supported. Our service has teams of dementia support advisers, a helpline, a specialist nurse and wellbeing activities. When a Dementia Care Coordinator finds a person who needs that support, they can do a piece of work with them to ensure they get their diagnosis and then safely pass that family and that person into the further support network of Dementia Forward.
— Jill Quinn, CEO, Dementia Forward.

As the population ages and people live for longer, dementia has become one of the most important health and care issues facing the world. In England it is estimated that around 676,000 people have dementia. In the whole of the UK, the number of people with dementia is estimated at 850,000.

There are about 540,000 carers of people with dementia in England. It is estimated that one in three people will care for a person with dementia in their lifetime. Half of them are employed and it’s thought that some 66,000 people have already cut their working hours to care for a family member, whilst 50,000 people have left work altogether.

There is a considerable economic cost associated with the disease estimated at £23 billion a year, which is predicted to triple by 2040. This is more than the cost of cancer, heart disease and stroke. If you or someone you know is worried about becoming increasingly forgetful, particularly if they’re older than 65, you should talk to your doctor about the possibility of dementia.

We know that people typically come to see us quite a long way down the line, when things have become really difficult, and what we really want is for people to come much earlier. Come and see us when you’re starting to feel concerned, because that’s the point where we can start to make changes that hopefully prevent things getting worse. The earlier we see you with any concerns about memory, the better for us to be able to do something about it.
— Dr Ebbs

Dementia Forward can be contacted on 03300 578592, Monday – Friday 9am-4pm

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