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Dementia champions begin work in Scotland

Scottish government also pledges post-diagnostic support

Jo Carlowe

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

One hundred Dementia Champions have started work across Scotland to help drive up standards of care for people with dementia.

The first wave of champions, including existing nurses, allied health professionals and some clinical managers, have been trained by the University of the West of Scotland and Alzheimer Scotland, and are working in hospitals across Scotland.

Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Specialist Nurses are also being appointed in every health board across the country.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has made a commitment for 2013 to introduce a new national post-diagnostic support target to ensure people with dementia receive the help they need following diagnosis.

The commitment builds on Scotland’s performance in improving diagnosis as highlighted in a recent Alzheimer Society report into diagnosis rates across the UK, which shows that Scotland is performing better than England and Wales.

The guarantee is the first of its kind in the world. If delivered it will mean all those newly diagnosed with dementia will receive at least a year of person-centred post-diagnostic support, provided by a named person.

Ms Sturgeon said: "It is estimated that up to 82,000 people in Scotland have dementia and we expect that number to double over the next 25 years. The NHS and local authorities have to be well equipped to understand the care which people with dementia and their families are entitled to, in order to ensure that their dignity, independence and wishes are met.

"It is also vital that we focus on post-diagnostic support and that is why I have introduced this new national commitment. Getting the right support in place at this stage of the illness can greatly help improve the quality of care throughout the journey of the illness.”

Chief Executive of Alzheimer Scotland, Henry Simmons welcomed the commitment.

"Scotland has had tremendous success in facing one of the key challenges of dementia: encouraging people to come forward and making sure that they receive a prompt diagnosis. Recent statistics show that we are leading the way in this regard compared to our counterparts in England and Wales.

"We also welcome the new Dementia Champions, who are a vital component in delivering meaningful change to people with dementia and their families. We are greatly impressed by their commitment and enthusiasm. They will complement the work done by our Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurse Specialists across Scotland."

In total, 300 Dementia Champions will be working across the NHS and local authorities by 2013.

The first 100 champions graduated in March this year. The next 200, who will include staff from the social care sector, will begin their training next month.

Four test sites across the county are piloting the post-diagnostic commitment, with a view to establishing it across the country in 2013.

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