Kirsty Yanik: We need to able to manage dementia

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Alzheimer Scotland welcomes the update of the Dementia UK report by Alzheimer’s Society, which highlights the growth in the UK population over the age of 90 and the impact of dementia for our oldest citizens. Scotland’s population is living longer. There are more than 37,000 people over the age of 90 in Scotland (roughly the capacities of Easter Road and Tynecastle combined) and we can expect this number to increase. This age group is the most likely to have dementia, often alongside many other health issues that we associate with older age.

Our health and social care system must be robust enough to manage the demands of dementia as experienced by the oldest members of our society. They, their partners and their families deserve the best possible standards of care and support, delivered in ways that protect their needs and wishes.

The Scottish Government launched its one-year guarantee of Post-Diagnostic Support in April 2013.

This means that anyone who has been diagnosed with dementia since that point should receive appropriate information and support for at least one year, based on a model devised by Alzheimer Scotland and delivered by local link workers.

It is vital that we continue to ensure quality of life for people with dementia, their partners and families as the illness progresses. Alzheimer Scotland’s model of community-based support focuses on the dementia practice co-ordinator. This model of support is being piloted in several sites across Scotland, in partnership with the Scottish Government and other partners.

We must maintain the dignity, respect and human rights of people with dementia while delivering the highest standards of care and support. Scotland’s health and social care workforce needs to understand this illness and the impact it will have on care and treatment.

By 2015, there will be more than 600 dementia champions leading improvement and best practice at the front line – primarily in acute NHS care, but also among allied health professionals and in local authorities. They will be supported by Alzheimer Scotland’s dementia nurse consultants, who are based in every Scottish health board. The efforts of the health and social care workforce are supported by the growth of Dementia Friendly Communities all over Scotland (including Edinburgh City Council), recognising that everyone in Scotland has a role to play in making sure that nobody faces dementia alone.

If you are worried about dementia, call Alzheimer Scotland’s 24-hour Freephone Dementia Helpline on 0808 808 3000 or visit www.alzscot.org.

Kirsty Yanik is a spokeswoman for Alzheimer Scotland