Credit: University of Chichester
- Ground-breaking project may be rolled-out across UK once scientists evaluate impact on people living with dementia and their families
- Novel model has already brought life-changing benefits to thousands of people with illness on south coast
- Wellbeing initiative – known as Sage House – brings key dementia services under one roof to help people regain independence in their lives
SCIENTISTS are examining the impact of a pioneering dementia initiative which has brought life-changing benefits to West Sussex patients to understand if it can be replicated nationwide.
The model, created by charity Dementia Support in Chichester, is the first of its kind in the country to bring key services under one roof to help people living with the illness.
Academics at the University of Chichester have been appointed to lead the review which will identify its value and if it should be adopted by health organisations to improve the lives of 900,000 dementia patients in the UK.
Researcher Dr Rachel King, from the University team, said: “Due to the UK’s aging population, the prevalence of dementia has been projected to rise steeply in the coming years, meaning post diagnostic care that helps to maintain wellbeing is essential.
“If we follow World Alzheimer’s recommendations, the most effective approach to delivering high-quality and effective healthcare is to shift to post-diagnostic support services based in primary and community-led care.”
The number of people with dementia in the UK is expected to reach 1.6million by 2040 according to a London School of Economics study, while it expects more than 20,000 diagnoses in West Sussex within the next decade.
This increase will not only impact patients but could cost the economy up to £94.1billion pounds – nearly the entire annual NHS budget – in associated medical, social and unpaid care costs, recent government figures show.
The model developed by the Dementia Support charity has, since it was established in 2014, helped thousands of patients and their families regain some independence in their lives.
The community hub – known as Sage House – currently cares for nearly 650 patients by integrating services including therapies, diagnostic support, mental and social stimulation, and person care alongside partnerships with nearby councils and community and voluntary groups.
Ahead of the evaluation, University of Chichester academics will compare the impact of the project on the quality of life for patients, family members, and carers – and the financial benefit to the NHS.
Dr King added: “Dementia Support’s promising new model aligns with World Alzheimer’s recommendations and is implemented in a comprehensive and integrated hub at Sage House.
“This continuity of care and wraparound support has the potential to improve wellbeing not only for individuals living with dementia but also for their care givers. Our review will identify whether this model provides better quality-of-life outcomes compared to the existing non-integrative model, and will evaluate whether it is cost effective.”
The University of Chichester research team also intend to review the difference in outcomes based on the New Economics Foundation’s five ways to wellbeing public health plan: connection, being active, taking notice, learning and giving.
Sage House CEO Sally Tabbner said that it had always been Dementia Support’s ambition to use their organisation as a template in other UK areas so that more people benefit from the support offered.
She added: “The appointment of the University of Chichester marks an important milestone in our ambitions to work with other communities to grow and support people living with dementia, their families, and carers, as there is still so much more that is needed and to do.”
The University academics will complete the first stage of the evaluation by spring next year, with its final report published by the end of 2023.
Read more on Dementia Support and its Sage House hub at www.dementiasupport.org.uk/NAP.
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