More dementia support in Norfolk

Every person in Norfolk diagnosed with dementia will be offered information and advice on the range of support available to them as part of a new countywide project to help patients and their carers cope with the life-changing impact of the illness.

Being told that you or a loved one has dementia can be a traumatic and worrying time.

But from this month, anyone in Norfolk diagnosed with the condition will be offered a pack containing details of the free help and support available to patients and carers.

The aim is to address some of the fears and anxiety diagnosis brings, and to provide answers to the most commonly asked questions.

The packs have been jointly produced as part of a trial project led by NHS North Norfolk Clinical Commissioning Group in collaboration with the Carers Agency Partnership, Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK Norfolk, Norfolk County Council Library and Information Service, Healthwatch Norfolk, and Wells Community Hospital. They were collated by a team of Alzheimer’s Society volunteers at their office in Stody in North Norfolk.

The packs will be issued by the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s Memory Assessment Service, where patients are referred by their GP for expert assessment and diagnosis. Packs are also to be distributed to GP practices, local dementia support groups and information hubs, for anyone with a recent diagnosis.

Each pack contains:

  • The Norfolk Carers Handbook
  • Information and advice from Alzheimer’s Society
  • Specialist information about living with dementia
  • Information and advice from Age UK
  • Information about resources available through your local library
  • A special safeguarding ‘key’ – a clever but simple resource on which someone with memory problems can write their name and contact details in case they become lost or disorientated

Inspired by the ‘bounty packs’ given to expectant and new mums, the dementia packs are designed to address the lack of information available to patients following diagnosis.

It follows the Dementia Health Needs Assessment, published in July 2014 by Norfolk County Council Public Health, which highlighted inconsistencies in the provision of information and support to newly-diagnosed patients and their carers across the county.

Susan Brand, dementia support manager for the Alzheimer’s in Norfolk, said: “At difficult times, we all want to know there is someone there to help us. Receiving a diagnosis of dementia is certainly one of those times but unfortunately the reality for a lot of people has been that they’ve not known where to turn.

“These new packs will change this picture and open the door to the huge amounts of support and information that is available to people with dementia and carers across Norfolk.

‘With the right support, it is possible to live well with dementia and there is no time better than Dementia Awareness Week to be getting that message across. Through initiatives like this and the ongoing push by organisations, including Alzheimer’s Society, to make Norfolk more dementia friendly, we can ensure that life doesn’t end when dementia begins.”

The packs form part of the work that has been taking place for the past two years as part of the Living Well With Dementia (LWWD) programme in North Norfolk.

The initiative comes nine months after NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens reaffirmed a pledge to improve dementia diagnosis rates across the UK and provide more emotional and practical support to patients, their families and carers.