Dr Elizabeth Coulthard, Director of the Dementia Health Integration Team, looks back at what the team has achieved in 2013-14.
The Dementia HIT aims to achieve the best quality of life for people and families living with dementia. In our first 18 months, we have made significant strides towards this goal. We have increased the number of people diagnosed with dementia. In an initiative led by the Clinical Commissioning Groups and GPs, we are endeavouring to speed up the process by assessing patients in general practices when possible, while carefully auditing to ensure high standards are maintained.
With South Gloucestershire Council and the Alzheimer’s Society, we’ve run Dementia Road Shows throughout 2013, with more planned for 2014. These have started to improve care shortly after diagnosis, which is one of the most difficult times for patients and families.
There is still a desperate need for research into potential drug therapies, psychological interventions and optimising the social setting for people affected by dementia. So research is a major focus of the HIT, including a clinical trial in Alzheimer’s disease (RADAR, University of Bristol), a Memory Research Register of people interested in taking part in dementia research, and research into the best way to diagnose dementia.
Critical to the success of the HIT is our ongoing collaboration with the public and patients. This has taken many forms across Bristol and South Gloucestershire, including pilot projects of dementia friendly communities, and the Thinking Together group established by the Alzheimer’s Society to give a voice to people affected by dementia in the development of research and policy ideas. Public events include lectures by Dementia HIT members. We’ve also run a baseline survey of attitudes toward dementia in the region. The Dementia HIT celebration event planned for October 2014 will help forge further links between people affected by dementia, the public and professionals, paving the way for future collaborative enterprise across the Dementia HIT.