Orkney is leading the way in Scotland when it comes to driving forward a Dementia Strategy for people living with dementia in the county and their unpaid carers.
A consultation exercise on the new strategy is now to take place following approval of the document at this week’s Orkney Islands Council/NHS Orkney Integration Joint Board meeting.
Anna Buchanan, of the Life Changes Trust – a charity that invests in and supports three groups, including people living with dementia and their unpaid carers - described the strategy document as an “exemplar for elsewhere” and told members they would be contributing up to £45,000 to support an independent the evaluation of the impact of the strategy.
Board members agreed that the strategy document was a “formidable piece of work” and vital at a time when almost all families in Orkney will be touched by dementia in some respect.
It was also highlighted to members that an independent and expertly evaluated social return on investment benefit has been projected as being a £5.14 return within the community for every £1 spent.
Board member Councillor Steve Sankey said: “Orkney is leading the way in respect of the rest of Scotland and I am very satisfied that people with dementia, their families and their unpaid carers are at the heart of this strategy – regarded as equals and treated as experts.”
Service user representative, Janice Annal, said she found the lengthy document a “refreshing change” as it was “readable and very clear”. She was given reassurance that following the consultation exercise, there would be a strategy for any necessary corrective actions.
The strategy includes a foreword statement from people living with dementia and carers, themselves, which states: “Acceptance can be difficult, and individuals need to be supported in this area. It is our hope that the Orkney Dementia Strategy will help to support people living with dementia, their loved ones and carers, and that the support provided will be truly person-centred. Resources need to be offered which address the big issues such as innovative solutions to respite, care home provision and services that help people live independently in their own homes for as long as possible.
“We support a strategy that is realistic, practical and implemented in a timely manner, appropriate to our local context. It is crucial that people with appropriate skills are recruited to support those living with dementia and that future needs are planned for. As carers and people living with dementia, we welcome this strategy and look forward to seeing it implemented across Orkney.”
Presenting the strategy, Gillian Coghill, NHS Orkney Alzheimer Scotland Clinical Nurse Specialist, outlined the work undertaken and their aspirations for the future.
“The purpose of the Orkney Dementia Strategy 2020-2025 is to set out a renewed vision for dementia care and support in Orkney. It draws on a wide range of evidence and inter-related policies, including Scotland’s Third National Dementia Strategy. Most importantly of all, it draws on the experiences and views of people living in Orkney whose lives are affected by dementia. Some of these people are living with dementia and others are unpaid carers, often family, supporting people living with dementia.
“There is often a lack of awareness and understanding of dementia, resulting in stigmatisation, inequality and barriers to diagnosis and care. The impact of dementia on carers, family and wider society can be physical, psychological, social and economic. We need to adopt a social model of dementia as a disability, recognising the challenges people with dementia face and affording the same priority to reduce impact, as we do for physical disabilities. Dementia is one of the foremost public health challenges worldwide. There is currently no cure for dementia. However, there are treatments, therapies and supports which are effective in maintaining skills and independence and contributing positively to the experiences of people with dementia and unpaid carers.”
With an ageing population within Orkney, a projected increase in numbers of people with dementia presents a range of challenges, not only for the people who develop dementia, and their families and carers, but also for the statutory and voluntary services that provide care and support, Gillian Coghill explained.
“If the estimated prevalence rates remain similar, the number of people living with dementia in Orkney is set to almost double between 2016 and 2041, increasing from 419 to 800 people. We need to develop innovative ways to build capacity, resilience within financial constraints.”
The five-year strategy provides a framework for improvement in support and services for people with a diagnosis of dementia and those who provide unpaid support for them throughout communities in Orkney, Ms Coghill added.
“This Strategy aspires to highlight the importance of risk reduction, early diagnosis and access to high quality post diagnostic support which is dynamic to needs, strengths and identified personal outcomes for people with dementia.
“It recognises the positive contribution and need to support carers, volunteers and staff and has been developed from a grass roots perspective. It supports Community Led Support and the need for integrated systems, which promote enablement and uphold rights for people with dementia, the building of dementia friendly communities and increasing community capacity to enable people with dementia to live well, without stigma as a valued part of their community and in their own homes when possible.
“This Strategy evidences the importance of planning and developing services and supports for and with people living with dementia. It addresses the challenges involved in meeting the needs of the growing number of people who will be diagnosed with dementia, recognising the unique challenges and strengths of the Orkney community. It supports the right care, in the right place at the right time by the right people.
“There is recognition of the need to do things differently, both in relation to people’s experiences and to ensure a sustainable model of support. We need to work together with all relevant people and groups to design and deliver the best care and support we can. This provides us with an opportunity to make changes which support the appropriate level of priority and investment needed for dementia in Orkney. We need to ensure that dementia is prioritised and kept firmly on the agenda in all relevant policies, procedures and plans.”
Members of the IJB approved the strategy and consultation will now take place with key stakeholders, results of which will be presented to the Board at a future meeting, no later than September 2020.