Dr Liz Coulthard, Director of the Dementia Health Integration Team (HIT), reflects on the team's work and successes in 2015-16.
The Dementia HIT aims to achieve the best quality of life for people and families living with dementia. Since we began three years ago we have made significant strides towards this goal. The Dementia Wellbeing Service is celebrating its first birthday, with systems embedded in primary and secondary care and largely positive feedback, particularly for their post-diagnosis services.
A major achievement is identification of people living with dementia. The national target for dementia diagnosis is 67 per cent. In 2012-2013, when the HIT formed, the dementia diagnosis rates in Bristol and South Gloucestershire were 49.8 per cent and 47.8 per cent respectively. In January 2016 these diagnosis rates have risen to 70.4 per cent in Bristol and 60.7 per cent in South Gloucestershire.
Everything we do is underpinned by patient and public involvement (PPI) to shape the HIT’s work. We have also carried out a survey that found that public attitudes are positive towards people affected by dementia.
Research continues to be a major focus of the HIT. In January 2016 our research team held a showcase event, highlighting dementia research in disciplines as diverse as neurosurgery, clinical trials, psychology, epidemiology, public health, laboratory and clinical research. Hilary Doxford spoke about her experiences of taking part in research as a person living with dementia.
Join Dementia Research (JDR) is a new national initiative, with Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) hosting the local team. It allows anyone over the age of 18 with or, significantly, without a diagnosis of dementia, to register their interest in national dementia research and be matched to a huge range of research activities. In December 2015 the AWP JDR team hired a tour bus and travelled the region to promote the initiative, resulting in 1,250 people joining and making the West the leading region for registrations.
In June 2015 Bristol and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Groups launched Be Dementia Aware. The campaign called on people to talk to their GP if they are concerned that they, or someone they care about, may be showing signs of dementia. We aim to build on this work and link in to Public Health England’s Health Matters initiative on midlife approaches to reduce dementia risk, launched in March 2016.