The Northern Health and Social Care Trust is launching a new memory service in East Antrim.
The service will address the increasing numbers of undiagnosed dementia in the community and in nursing homes and aims to “help people to live well with dementia through timely diagnosis and support”.
A comprehensive service is offered to include pre-diagnostic counselling, timely comprehensive assessment, post-diagnostic counselling, support and education.
If anyone thinks they may have dementia, or know someone who may, they can speak to their GP or other healthcare professionals to request a referral to the service.
Following referral, a memory link worker will meet with the individual in their home to explain how the memory service works and to offer pre-diagnostic counselling.
A comprehensive assessment will then be arranged in partnership with the individual.
The assessment can provide a number of outcomes; it can confirm if an individual has dementia and, if so, the specific type of dementia.
It can also confirm if someone doesn’t have the condition and perhaps has a mild cognitive impairment.
People with a diagnosis of dementia are allocated a key worker to offer support and co-ordinate their care.
They will also support the individual by planning for care in the future including changes to their routine such as family members going on holidays, or loved ones going into hospital.
The Trust believes that by providing the right support at the right time, the service can help someone to live well with dementia ensuring they encounter as little stress as possible and preventing a crisis occurring.
The service will also help families by explaining how dementia works and helping both the individual and family members to interact successfully, thereby reducing the frustration that many people with dementia can experience.
The Trust is determined to dispel some of the myths about dementia which may prevent people from coming forward.
Work is also underway with GP colleagues to develop appropriate specialist training to help GPs to recognise early changes in behaviour or cognitive function which could be the result of dementia.