SSP Practices are doing their bit to make their surgeries more welcoming and supportive for people with dementia and their families.
Dementia Action Week runs from May 20 to 26, 2019, this year, encouraging people to do things that will improve the lives of those who have the condition and working to create a dementia-friendly community where those afflicted do not feel excluded.
Around 850,000 people in the UK are affected by dementia, which does not just afflict the elderly, 40,000 people in the UK under the age of 65 suffer from early onset dementia. It is believed that by 2051 the number of people who have dementia in the UK will have risen to 2 million.
Several SSP Practices have completed training and have been accredited as Dementia Friends, which signals that that the surgeries have made modifications and changes to ensure patients with the condition are considered specifically in the care they receive.
Staff at the practices, which include Beefold Medical Centre, in Atherton; Astley General Practice, in Astley; and Leigh Family Practice, in Leigh, were also given awareness raising sessions that focussed on dementia.
SSP Health’s Poplar Street surgery, in Tyldesley, and Nelson Street surgery, in Atherton, were given a further insight into the condition earlier this year when 30 patients who suffer from dementia and their carers were invited for a Dementia Afternoon Tea.
Practice manager Simon Carr joined forces with his Patient Participation Group to host the tea at the Dementia Café, in Atherton, run by the Good Deeds Trust (https://gooddeedstrust.co.uk/Dementia-Cafe.html)
Several organisations from across Wigan were involved, including Wigan and Leigh Carer’s Centre, Alzheimer’s Society Wigan and Age UK, along with a community link worker and the representatives from Wigan Borough CCG.
Local charity Dementia Buddy also attended to give a presentation on their work.
Whilst the group ate tea and scones, members of these organisations talked to patients and carers individually about what they do and how their help can be accessed.
Healthwatch recommends these changes to GP surgeries make to better support people with dementia:
Improve the environment: People living with dementia can find it difficult to read everyday signs and may require additional help to find their way around. Having dementia friendly signs, which include symbols and pictures, can be easier for people to understand.
Longer appointments: People with dementia can struggle to remember to attend appointments. Having an easy-to-use appointments system and sending reminders to patients or their carers can help to reduce missed appointments. Communication and understanding are often an issue for people living with dementia. It can sometimes be difficult for patients to recall past discussions regarding their care, so offering double appointments can give people extra time to express themselves.
Increase dementia awareness for all staff: Some staff at GP practices are unable to spot when patients have dementia. Regular awareness training for staff could help them understand what information and support people need to manage their condition. Dementia Friends, an initiative run by the Alzheimer’s Society, offers training and resources to support organisations.
Better community engagement: By listening to people from every part of the community, services can understand what patients with dementia and their carers need.