Dementia is a national and local priority, and the Dementia Health Integration Team are working hard to transform care for people affected by dementia through comprehensive research, integrating and improving care services, and by creating dementia-friendly communities. The team of experts is drawn from local universities, councils, NHS trusts, volunteer organisations and charities.
The number of people with dementia is growing due to an ageing population: 2,160 people in Bristol have been diagnosed with the condition, but historically low diagnosis rates mean the real number is estimated at 4,500. The number of dementia patients in Bristol is expected to increase by 23 per cent over the next two decades.
The HIT wants to create a climate in which health care staff feel confident about identifying and managing dementia, social care staff and carers feel confident about caring for people with the condition, and the general public has a greater understanding of the disease.
The vision of the HIT is to deliver:
To achieve this vision the team has five work streams:
The work stream leads have been busy, with much progress made since the HIT formed in October 2012. They have developed a joint dementia strategy for Bristol and South Gloucestershire, as well as a workforce development strategy, and used Dementia Challenge funds on various projects across the region. To understand attitudes toward dementia in Bristol and South Gloucestershire, they have gathered baseline data through a standardised questionnaire. Other projects include integrating dementia diagnosis and prescribing into primary care, and developing a memory research register which will be piloted in January 2014. They've also undertaken an audit of dementia diagnosis rates and baseline measures of subtype diagnosis in Bristol and South Gloucestershire, delivered training for health care professionals and created new dementia services for the region.
The HIT has enabled the formation of various groups, including the creation of the 'Thinking Together' group of people affected by dementia who input into the HIT's workstreams, and dementia steering groups for Bristol and South Gloucestershire. And they now have a dedicated staff member to work on the dementia care pathway in Bristol.
Event highlights include a public forum on Alzheimer's disease which was chaired by Jonathan Dimbleby on 3 October at UWE. Two of the panellists were HIT members. At the Bristol Neuroscience Festival 10th anniversary celebrations in October, Dr Liz Coulthard, co-lead Director for the HIT, presented on improving memory in patients with dementia. Dr Sarah Cullum, co-lead Director, presented on the work of the HIT at Avon & Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership's research and development conference in November. The team has also run dementia roadshows in South Gloucestershire.
Another highlight was Professor Rik Cheston's appearance on Mervyn Kemp's Silversound BCFM radio show on 15 November. Rik is co-lead Director for the Research work stream, and he talked about the work of the HIT. And HIT member Dr Peter Brindle and Bristol CCG were finalists in the HSJ Clinical Research Category for their entry 'Including a requirement to promote research, in 15 mental health service specifications - aiming to widen patient participation in high-quality studies'.
Looking ahead, UWE's 'Making involvement in dementia research count' conference on 9 December has been organised by Professor Rik Cheston. Professor Richard Gray, the other co-lead Director for the research work stream, will be presenting. The 'Thinking Together' group and other HIT researchers will also be presenting, and the team will have a stand at the event.
On 1 April 2014 the HIT will host an event celebrating the achievements of its first 18 months. This event will be for people affected by dementia, commissioners, researchers and anyone with an interest in the HIT. In early 2014, the HIT will launch the jointly-commissioned Porting Memories project for Bristol and South Gloucestershire. More dementia roadshows are planned for South Gloucestershire in 2014, and a conference on how the learning in South Gloucestershire can be spread is in the pipeline for the summer.