The Northern Ireland Executive has published a new strategy for improving dementia services in the region, echoing many of the conclusions made in the Nuffield Council’s 2009 report Dementia: ethical issues.
Health Minister Edwin Poots MLA highlighted several key measures set out in the strategy, including preventing or delaying the onset of dementia through public health interventions; raising awareness and addressing stigma associated with the condition; facilitating access to an earlier diagnosis; a staged approach to care and support as the condition progresses; improving staff awareness and skills to respond to the needs of people with dementia; and redesigning services to provide care and support in people’s own homes.
These measures are very much in accord with the Nuffield Council’s 2009 recommendations. For example, the Council concluded that people should have access to good quality assessment and support from the time they, or their families, become concerned about symptoms that relate to a possible diagnosis of dementia. In addition, the Council highlighted the importance of providing appropriate information, advice and peer support services to all those caring for people with dementia.
The strategy is published in the same week as the Department of Health in England launches a new campaign to raise awareness of the early signs and symptoms of dementia. The campaign includes a leaflet and television advert for people who may be concerned when a member of their family begins to lose their memory. The campaign also emphasises the importance of early diagnosis, noting that “an early diagnosis can help people with dementia to get the right treatment and support, and help those close to them to prepare and plan for the future. With treatment and support, many people are able to lead active, fulfilling lives.”