“Don’t bottle it up” is the message from health and social care professionals this week during Dementia Awareness week 2014.
The Public Health Agency and Health and Social Care Board are working jointly with the Alzheimer’s Society, the Dementia Services Development Centre and local Health and Social Care Trusts to implement Improving Dementia Services in Northern Ireland. This regional strategy aims to promote a culture which ensures people with dementia are supported to live with dignity and without stigma.
Eleanor Ross, Nurse Consultant with the Public Health Agency, said: “People can find it difficult to talk about it when they think that they, or someone close to them, may have dementia.
“We would encourage people to open up about worries they might have about their memory and to seek help as soon as possible.
“By talking openly about dementia and its impact on daily life people, family members and carers can begin to access the practical help and support available. Timely diagnosis allows people to receive treatment and care which enable them to live independent and fulfilling lives. Early diagnosis and support also enable people to plan for the future and to make their own decisions about their care.”
Seamus McErlean, Commissioning Lead for Older People and Adult Services at the Health and Social Care Board said: “Often people are reluctant to seek help with memory problems as they feel that nothing can be done. Through the implementation of the Dementia Strategy investment in memory services provided by local Trusts ensures individuals can avail of assessment and referral onto appropriate care services.
“Statutory health and social care organisations are working in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society and the Dementia Services Development Centre to make the public aware of the supports which promote independence and support families and carers. These include supported housing, care at home, lifestyle advice and information on local support groups. It is vital therefore that we encourage people to open up and have the confidence to ask for help.”
The principle of supported living and promoting independence are key principles which support the delivery of the recommendations of the Transforming Your Care Review (2011). These represent a radical change to how and where health services are delivered in communities through a shift of service provision, moving care out of institutions and hospitals and into the community.
If you, or a member of your family, have concerns about Alzheimer’s disease or about any other form of dementia the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Helpline 0300 222 1122 can provide information, support, guidance and signposting to other appropriate organisations.
The strategy, Improving Dementia Services in Northern Ireland – A Regional Strategy, is available on the DHSSPS website.