New NHS dementia service to be rolled-out in west Kent this summer

Date added: 24 May 2019

A specialist service aimed to support people living with dementia in west Kent is being launched by the NHS this summer.

Seven dementia nurses are being hired to work alongside clusters of GP surgeries to support people affected by dementia and their families.

The service, which is funded by NHS West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group (WK CCG) and delivered by NHS Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT), has been set up to increase the wellbeing of dementia patients, improve their quality of life and reduce the time patients have to wait to get assessed and treated.

A first of its kind in Kent, the specialist dementia nurses will:

  • help to identify and assess people with a likely diagnosis of dementia
  • offer support and advice to those with a new diagnosis
  • provide interventions in the community such as education, sleep advice, medication reviews, counselling, signposting to relevant services, and support for carers.

The experienced mental health and general nurses, with specific knowledge in dementia and physical health, will work as part of a team of professionals, grouped around seven geographic locations in the west Kent area, supporting GP practices.

Four nurses are due to start in July, supporting GP practices (55 in total) in and around Maidstone, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells, with a further three to be in place soon after.

They will also work alongside other healthcare professionals such as frailty nurses, social care nurses and district nurses to make sure that people living with dementia and other complex conditions are seen.

It is hoped that the new service will help to reduce patient waiting times for services such as Memory Clinics, reduce the number of interactions some families need with NHS services and will support carers and families with education and NHS signposting or advice.

Clare Lux, West Kent Manager for Community Mental Health Services for Older People, KMPT said: “We are very excited to be supporting this programme. By having specialist dementia nurses working directly with GP practices, we can make sure that patients are seen and assessed much more quickly and, in some cases, patients can even be treated in their own homes.

“These specialist nurses will also be able to work with other healthcare professionals to ensure we are providing patients with the right care, at the right time, in the right place.”

Katie Collier, GP and Clinical Lead for NHS West Kent, CCG said: “As people live longer we need to look at innovative ways in which we can support them into their later years and provide excellent care that is near to home. By working closely with GP surgeries and having access to consultant advice, where necessary, these new nurses will increase the support and treatment we can offer to many people living with dementia in the community and their loved ones.

“If you have noticed that you or a loved one are becoming increasingly forgetful or confused then you should discuss your concerns with your doctor.”

NHS guide to dementia

What are the signs of dementia?

Dementia is not a single illness, but a group of symptoms caused by damage to the brain.

You should look out for:

  • Memory loss, such as remembering past events much more easily than recent ones
  • Problems thinking or reasoning, or finding it hard to follow conversations or TV programmes
  • Feeling anxious, depressed or angry about memory loss or feeling confused, even when in a familiar environment.

Example of specialist dementia nurse support:

Doris, is aged 81 years and has complex health needs including Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) and diabetes. Her husband is her main carer. He has raised concerns as she has started to miss her medication due to memory problems and has started to become frail with mobility problems.

Doris has called an ambulance and has attended A&E three times in the past eight weeks. She has been discussed in the Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) cluster meetings and the dementia cluster nurse agrees to meet the carers and frailty nurse at home to conduct an assessment.

Doris is diagnosed with dementia and prescribed medication to help the symptoms and her memory has improved. The specialist dementia nurse offers Doris and her husband post diagnostic counselling and support with practical ideas to make sure she is taking her medication. Doris’s husband is then referred for a carer assessment and sign posted to the Alzheimer’s Society for peer support.

As a result, Doris is now able to mobilise more safely, has not attended A&E in the past 12 weeks and is much better at remembering to take her medication. And, Doris’s husband feels well supported and less isolated as a carer.

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