A new service to help dementia sufferers is being launched after councils, the NHS and voluntary groups joined forces.
People with the illness and carers will benefit from a network of wellbeing centres in what is believed to be the first scheme of its kind in the country.
Many are not aware of the services and support available and only seek help when the condition has deteriorated. The 11 planned centres across Surrey will tackle that by putting the focus on providing help and advice, particularly for those in the early stages of dementia.
Under the plans, social care and health staff will be based at the hubs, with support provided by the Alzheimer’s Society.
Public services involved in the scheme include Surrey County Council, the county’s 11 borough and district councils and Surrey and Borders NHS Foundation Trust.
It is estimated that around 570,000 people in the UK have dementia, a disease that causes memory loss, an inability to finish tasks and the loss of speech and mobility.
The first centre will be based at Runnymede Borough Council’s Manor Farm Day Centre in Manor Farm Lane, Egham. It is due to be launched by the end of March*.
Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health Michael Gosling said: “Dealing with the confusion and forgetfulness that are the early signs of dementia is difficult enough.
“Until now people have had the added challenge of navigating a maze of services but by working as one team councils, the NHS and voluntary groups are making life easier for people with the illness.”
Chairman of Runnymede Borough Council’s Community Services Committee Cllr Peter Waddell said: “This is a unique scheme in Surrey to provide specialist care for dementia sufferers, and hopefully will provide a blueprint for future schemes in the county. I think it’s a very important thing to have as we are an ageing society and we’re seeing more and more cases of Alzheimer’s and dementia every year.”
In 2010, National Clinical Director for Dementia Professor Alistair Burns described the council and NHS Surrey as leading the way with their joint plans for improving dementia care in Surrey.
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* Caterham and Walton are next in line to get centres with another eight set to follow.