Search

Major new project to tackle dementia

PUBLISHED: 07:00 04 August 2009 | UPDATED: 11:18 06 July 2010

The region is to get a £13.7m boost in the fight against dementia.

The region is to get a £13.7m boost in the fight against dementia.

A pioneering £13.7m centre to help the rising number of people with dementia will soon be established to serve Norfolk and Waveney.

In the biggest investment it has ever made, the Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Trust is leading the way in the provision of care for the thousands of people struck down with dementia every year.

A pioneering £13.7m centre to help the rising number of people with dementia will soon be established to serve Norfolk and Waveney.

In the biggest investment it has ever made, the Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Trust is leading the way in the provision of care for the thousands of people struck down with dementia every year.

The 36-bed Dementia Intensive Care Unit (DICU), billed as the first of its kind in Britain, will be built at the Julian Hospital site, in Bowthorpe Road, Norwich.

The centre, set to open in the winter of 2011/12, will be a therapeutic resource, which will promote well-being and help people with dementia function better in every day life.

There will be homelike furnishings, individual care plans and sensory treatments, all delivered in a non-institutional environment.

Dementia costs the UK economy £17bn a year, and in the next 30 years, the number of people with dementia in the UK will double to 1.4m - with costs trebling to more than £50b a year.

Claire Cornier, programme manager for DICU, said: “The new centre will be unique and state-of-the-art. It is the biggest investment the trust has ever made and will change the way dementia patients are cared for.

“It will focus on sensory care and will use visual prompts and creativity to ease behavioural problems. For example, a white bathroom with a white wall does nothing to help some one with dementia. Certain colours and light are therapeutic to them and we will focus on this.

“We are expanding dementia services and this will concentrate on high dependency dementia patients. There are other specialist dementia units in the country, but in terms of what this involves, the care and the investment it really is the first of its kind.”

There are currently 28 beds available for patients at Hellesdon Hospital, but this new purpose-built centre will treat up to 36 people at any one time.

The DICU is the second major investment in providing state-of-the-art mental health treatment facilities in recent years.

In May 2009, the trust opened Justin Gardner House at its Hellesdon Hospital site, housing a psychiatric intensive care unit and low secure unit.

Any investment in dementia services will be welcomed by families in the region as it is predicted by the Alzheimer's Society that, over the next 15 years, more than 91,000 people in East Anglia will have dementia, compared with the current figure of 63,000.

The number of individuals aged up to 65 is projected to remain largely constant between now and 2029, but the proportion of the population over 65 is predicted to rise “inexorably”, according to health managers.

The group of people over 85 is set to increase in size dramatically, with almost a 100pc increase from the 2007 levels.

Maggie Wheeler, trust chairman, said the investment “reflected” our ageing population.

She said: “We made a promise when we were talking about delivering services to older people in Norfolk; the DICU is about us delivering on this and more.”

The trust's director of business development, Rachel Newson, said: “I am very proud to be able to show the local public of Norfolk and Waveney such a solid commitment to ensuring the services we deliver, and the environments we deliver them in, are aiming for excellence for people of all ages.

“Norfolk has a particularly high proportion of older adults, which will continue to grow at a very high rate. Planning for this now sees the level of high quality services…secured for many years to come.

“The DICU will become the core of the trust's dementia care service, providing expertise, training, care delivery and academic research…to be the leaders on world-class dementia care in Norfolk.”

The DICU is for those patients with the most intensive and challenging care needs that cannot be managed initially in specialist nursing care provision.

Phil Hope, care services minister, said: “I am pleased to see that the Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Trust are investing in this important new facility. It demonstrates the priority they are giving to dementia care, which the Government fully supports.”

“I am sure that the Dementia Intensive Care Unit will help people with complex needs access high quality dementia care, whilst improving coordination across the whole care and health system.”

As reported earlier this month health bosses also promised that the Octagon Day Centre at Hellesdon Hospital would be relocated to the Julian Hospital amid threats it would close down because it was underused.

The Octagon is also run by the Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Trust and provides day treatment for people with acute dementia.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years, through good times and bad. Coronavirus is one of the greatest challenges our community has ever faced, but if we all play our part we will defeat it. We're here to serve as your advocate and trusted source of local information.

In these testing times, your support is more important than ever. Thank you.

Most Read

Most Read

Latest from the Lowestoft Journal