Other areas of the country must take a lead from Sunderland if they are to tackle a ‘postcode lottery’ in dementia care, according to the boss of a city charity.

Alan Patchett, director of Age UK Sunderland – which runs the Essence Service for those recently diagnosed with the condition – has said that other areas should look and learn from the service, after a new report has revealed huge discrepancies between the standard of diagnosis and care for people with dementia in different areas of the country.

New findings in an NHS atlas of treatment standards show that standards in support for people with dementia vary hugely from area to area. Mr Patchett believes that Sunderland is getting it right.

He said: “This report makes for grim reading for certain areas of the country. In a time in which we are seeing the number of diagnosed cases of dementia rise, we absolutely must be looking for new and innovative ways of supporting those in our community who are living with this condition.

“In Sunderland, the partnerships between Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and organisations like Age UK Sunderland and the Sunderland Carers’ Centre are going some way towards supporting those who are coming to terms with the reality of life after a dementia diagnosis. It is this approach that is helping to change the lives of a great many people who face the often frightening prospect of life with dementia.”

Age UK Sunderland delivers the Essence Service which is funded by Sunderland CCG. Operating out of a main hub in Doxford Park, the service provides practical and emotional support to those recently diagnosed with dementia and their carers, helping with sessions that help keep their mind active, as well as signposting to other organisations and providing benefit checks that may benefit the carer and the individual.

Mr Patchett added: “A great many of us will at some point face a dementia diagnosis – one million Britons are expected to be diagnosed with the condition by 2025. This is a huge number and of course, if we face that prospect, we will hope to receive the best possible care.

“In parts of the country, that care is simply not forthcoming and we are extremely fortunate in Sunderland to have a forward-thinking approach to dealing with dementia – one that is allowing us to deliver a truly life-changing service for carers and those living with a diagnosis.”

Age UK Sunderland is working in partnership with Sunderland Carers’ Centre, The Alzheimer’s Society and many other partners across the city of Sunderland, to provide the Essence Service, which is making a difference to over 1,000 people across the city.

The service offers a wide range of practical support by giving information in areas around health, wellbeing and legal issues while ensuring people are aware of how to access services that are of benefit to them.

People with an early dementia diagnosis also receive emotional and peer support to help understand and deal with their dementia diagnosis in a positive way.

To find out more call 0191 522 1310, email essenceservice@ageuksunderland.org.uk or drop in the Essence Service centre, at the Sir Thomas Allen Centre, Mill Hill Road, Doxford Park, Sunderland, SR3 2ND.

The NHS atlas – which makes us of official statistics from NHS Digital and Public Health England, and can be found at https://shapeatlas.net/dementia – allows families to examine local standards.

 

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