Health and Social Care integration: tackling the dementia challenge
With the number of people being diagnosed in the UK with dementia over the next 40 years1 expected to double (equivalent to one in three people over the age of 65) , perhaps most taxing of all the health and social care issues is dementia. The cost of the disease currently totals £23bn to the UK economy and one third of that cost is hidden by the work of family carers supporting people at home2. The quality of life for people with dementia and their carers remains varied: 62% of people living alone with dementia are ‘feeling lonely’3.
It is up to those who commission and provide dementia care to ensure that the services that are provided are meeting patients’ needs and will improve the happiness and wellbeing of all those affected. The integration of health and social care provides a great opportunity to create a structured, coordinated and strategic approach to dementia care. With the right care pathways, interactions and treatment plans, people with dementia (and their carers) can achieve a good quality of life.
Bringing integration to life: how can services integrate to improve dementia care?
In early July 2013, PA health and social care experts hosted a dinner in Manchester with all those who influence the patient pathway for dementia care, to identify the gaps in service provision and look for opportunities to improve care through integration.
In working through what an integrated dementia pathway would look like and achieve six key themes emerged:
Incorporate all sectors of the health and social care system
Resources and skills aren’t constrained to just one part of the system and commissioners and providers need to widen their reach (both in mind-set and in practical terms) to work with experts across the field.
Reconnect with patients
Understanding the needs of people with dementia should be a core objective of all health and social care workers. That means reconnecting with people in the local area to gain a fuller and more in depth picture of where the gaps in service provision lie.
Local communities can play a role in dementia care
Initiatives were discussed that involved educating people and groups in local communities who may not be directly affected by dementia but who can play a vital part in acting as a first step to diagnosis.
Whole person approach to care is vital
Some attendees felt that the introduction of a ‘Personalised Health Budget’ was a step in the right direction as it allowed users to have choice and spend the money on what satisfied their greatest needs
The offer has to be bigger
It was suggested that commissioners and providers need to offer more to those living with dementia - too many people are living in isolation and are experiencing fear and loneliness.
Technology can support people to remain independent
Technology is being under utilised to help people cope with dementia. Properly-deployed telecare improves service quality, helping those who might otherwise be isolated and at risk.
For a full copy of the event write up and to register for future health and social care events, please contact us now or click here for more information on our work in this area.
1 http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/infographic 2 http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/infographic 3 http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/infographic