Dementia United: Ex-MP wants Manchester as ‘global go-to’ for dementia care

Dementia United, a new partnership led by health experts, was launched in Manchester on Friday.

The organisation aims to transform the way a projected 22,000 dementia patients will receive care across the region by 2020.

Experts from Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, the Alzheimer’s Society and Greater Manchester health and social care devolution team will join forces with a range of associated organisations from charity groups, emergency services, mental health providers and housing and cultural organisations to propose a five year plan for Greater Manchester.

Supporting the new partnership is former Salford and Eccles MP Hazel Blears, who has had a very personal experience of living with dementia.

Her mother Dorothy, who died last year aged 79 at Salford Royal Hospital, was diagnosed with dementia nine years ago and was cared for by Hazel and her father Arthur.

Since standing down from Parliament Hazel sits as the Chair of the External Advisory Board for the Institute for Dementia at the University of Salford and has dedicated much of her time to improving dementia care.

And the former Labour politician revealed that she is excited at the prospect of Manchester leading the way in dementia care reforms.

“There’s a chance for us to do something that is world class,” she said.

“We want to make Greater Manchester the ‘go-to’ place globally for the best in dementia treatment, care and support.

“Most of my work around the last two or three years has been based around dementia care and innovation.

“Somebody is diagnosed with dementia every three minutes, before long every single family will have a member with dementia.

“I’d also like everybody to be dementia friendly and dementia aware, we want there to be no stigma or embarrassment about being diagnosed with dementia.”

Ms Blears added that her mother had still wanted a normal family life after her diagnosis and she now wants all patients to experience the same.

“Just because you have dementia it doesn’t mean you stop living,” she said.

Sir David Dalton, Chief Executive of Salford Royal, said: “Dementia United is incredibly ambitious; we believe that we will need to change everything, from the transport systems, emergency services, shops and workplaces, and health and social care.

“The new programme will support people to live, full, active and meaningful lives.”

Dementia United aims to build on existing strengths in the area to put a strong focus on improving early diagnosis and post diagnosis support, to improving hospital care and creating dementia-friendly communities.

It will also aim to reduce any variation in care across Greater Manchester, as well as looking at how new technologies could be used to support people with dementia and their treatment.

Ann Johnson, from Trafford who was diagnosed with dementia aged 52, is an Alzheimer’s Society ambassador.

“As a person living with dementia I know only too well the challenges faced not only to receive a diagnosis, but to then have to continue your life as best you can with the disease,” she said.

“I believe people can live well with dementia, but the support has to be there throughout the entire journey no matter where you live.”

Dementia United intends to help experts and patients come together to look at ways of improving all aspects of daily life for people living with dementia in the region.

This collaborative approach, which will consider a whole range of elements from housing to transport and work and shopping, will then result in an announcement in March (2016) giving further details and a proposed five-year programme plan for Greater Manchester.

In total, it is estimated that the health and care system in Greater Manchester spends £270m a year treating and caring for people with dementia.

By improving care and support, Dementia United aims to reduce the figure in five years’ time by 20% – mainly associated with unplanned hospital admissions and admissions to care homes.

For more information and to give your views on dementia care click here

Related Articles