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Giving local people a voice on health and social care services in County Durham

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Speedy referrals vital for the wellbeing of those living with dementia


A speedy diagnosis, and being able to access specialist support quickly, makes a great difference to the wellbeing of people with dementia and their families.

That's the conclusion of our new report into dementia services in County Durham - all based on feedback from people with direct experience of local dementia services.

The report also highlights how health professionals could improve how they signpost people to dementia support groups across the county.

Fifty surveys with people with dementia were completed online or face-to-face as part of our research and the majority of respondents (80%) were happy with the support they received. However, around a quarter (24%) said they did not feel supported by their GP.

Nearly all the people with dementia who took part in the research had been referred by their GP to other services but for almost half (45%) these referrals took longer than four weeks, which they said made their dementia journey more difficult.

The experience of one carer - “Dave” - is highlighted in the report and demonstrates how local independent support groups and services are helping people with dementia to live well. However, “Dave”, like many others we spoke to, discovered these on the recommendation of friends and family as professionals had not signposted him to them.

Neil Jarvis, strategic commissioning manager for adult and health services at Durham County Council, and chair of the Dementia Strategy Implementation Group, welcomed our report. He said: “We have made dementia one of our priorities so having good feedback on that is great for us.

“Clearly the main issue to come out of this for future work is the need for speedy referral into support services and the role of the NHS in that process. Though we have done quite a lot of work on that already we definitely need to make sure we keep the focus on it in future as a priority.

“As we move to integrated commissioning with the NHS it can only help with knitting services together and making sure the whole system works for people.” 

Read the full report here.


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Healthwatch County Durham Board Meeting will take place on 08 Oct 2019