A blueprint to help boost care for dementia patients in a Yorkshire district is being launched today following the most comprehensive assessment of its kind carried out by a local authority.
Bradford Council has been working with Oxford University, the London School of Economics, Bradford University and local organisations to assess how dementia impacts on people’s lives.
The strategy, which will be unveiled today, aims to reduce the impact of dementia and help improve care for those with the illness over the next five years.
A consultant in public health for Bradford Council, Andrew O’Shaughnessy, said: “We want to try to keep people in their homes as long as is reasonably possible. We want to give people a good quality of life with dementia.
“In Bradford we have a fabulous programme called Dementia Friendly Communities where neighbourhoods, businesses and organisations across the district are signing up to be dementia friendly and creating a culture in Bradford of understanding and respect for people with dementia and their carers.”
Looking at the role of carers and how to involve and empower them will be fundamental to the strategy.
Its key aims are to keep people with dementia in their homes for as long as is reasonably possible and to increase the strategic focus on people with dementia who live in care homes.
It is also aimed at reducing the risk of developing dementia through healthy lifestyles, providing high-quality end of life care and enabling a better quality of life for patients and their carers.
Dr O’Shaughnessy said: “One of the key things we looked at was end of life care. We really want to make sure that people with dementia have a good and dignified death, in the same way that if you look at all the work that has been done in palliative care in terms of cancer, that is something we would be looking at to try and emulate.
“This is nothing unique to Bradford. In the developed world, dementia lags behind illnesses such as cancer and heart disease in terms of end of life care and we want to start to address that gap very seriously in Bradford.”
There are 5,000 people with dementia in the Bradford district and about a third of those are undiagnosed. By 2020 there are estimated to be an additional 750 cases.
The strategy will continue to work on projecting the extent of the disease across different ages and communities as well as offering recommendations, such as measures to help change lifestyle factors to reduce people’s chances of getting the disease and helping those with dementia stay in their homes for longer.
Dr O’Shaughnessy said: “In one in three cases of dementia lifestyle is a significant risk factor in the same way as say, heart disease. Quitting smoking, improving your diet and getting enough exercise at a younger age could help prevent people getting dementia in the first place.”
The assessment included interviews with patients and carers and looked at areas including who gets dementia, care settings, the economics of dementia and end of life care.
Council leader David Green said: “The work being carried out in Bradford is pioneering and at the forefront of dementia research which will enable other local authorities to develop their own strategies.”