Spreading good dementia care practice around West Sussex

A group of independent sector care managers and senior staff who improved their leadership and management skills in dementia care have been praised by West Sussex County Council leader Louise Goldsmith.

She presented certificates to the group, which undertook the University-level module and will result in the latest thinking on dementia care being cascaded to their staff.

The course had been arranged by West Sussex County Council reflecting the growing numbers of people with dementia it and its partners within the independent sector will need to support.

Louise spoke of the importance of raising awareness about dementia and how part of the council’s reaction to the growing numbers of people who will have dementia is its Age with Confidence initiative.

This involves making sure that people are confident about preparing for and living well in old age with local authorities working closely with other partner organisations to help improve health and wellbeing of people in old age.

She said: “We want people to feel confident about getting older, and we don’t want them feeling frightened about issues such as dementia, but we do need to make people more aware of dementia and what we can do to support them because the County Council has a big role to play in terms of buying care provision.

“We know that dementia is growing and on current evidence will continue to do so in West Sussex so we need to make sure that all care staff in West Sussex have the very best skills to enable us to provide the right support.

“This means the County Council needs to ensure that it is at the leading edge of new ways of working to address the impacts of an ageing population.

“Within West Sussex we are steadily developing and improving services to take account of this.

“Along with NHS Sussex we have secured funding for memory assessment services to help increase the number of people who are diagnosed earlier with dementia.

“Dementia care is an area that is close to my heart. It is where cancer was 35 years ago when few people talked about cancer and the research budget for cancer was small compared to today.

“So the more we can go out and talk about dementia, the more it raises awareness and understanding and leads to a change in public attitudes about people with dementia, resulting in society becoming more dementia-friendly.

“We want to see good dementia care in West Sussex and we need to make it clear that having a diagnosis of dementia is not an end to life.”

Rosemary Pavoni, chairman of the West Sussex Forum and the Care Training Operations Board – which represents and works on behalf of independent care providers across the county – said: “Our hope is that from this course the very best practice can be passed down throughout care homes in West Sussex.

“It has certainly increased my skills in the care I already provide to people with dementia, providing me with a greater understanding the theory behind the best practice.”

More than 13,000 people are currently living with dementia in West Sussex, which is expected to increase by 33% by 2021.

The course was delivered by the Association for Dementia Care Studies, a respected group of experts in the field of person-centred dementia care and support.