This week (Monday 15th–Sunday 21st May 2023) is national Dementia Action Week, and the focus is on increasing diagnosis rates. Dementia is a group of symptoms associated with an ongoing decline of brain functioning.
NHS Greater Manchester is taking the opportunity to celebrate the strives it has made to improve the lives of those living with dementia through its programme for dementia – Dementia United, as well as raising awareness to ensure people know the symptoms to look out for to get a timely diagnosis.
Greater Manchester has the highest rate for dementia diagnosis in the North West, and has done since 2017. The diagnosis rate is currently at 69.4% – nearly 3% higher than the national dementia diagnosis rate target (66.7%) and over 7% higher than the national average (61.8%).
Getting a timely diagnosis of dementia can give people a better understanding of the condition and what to expect. It can also help people make important decisions about treatment, support and care.
Dementia United actively works alongside partners, including medical professionals and charities. The programme also puts people living with dementia and their families at the heart of its work, using their insights to improve the quality of care and support they provide.
This includes working with lived experience colleagues such as Patrick. Patrick lives with early onset dementia and plays a pivotal role in ensuring that dementia services are inclusive for LGBT+ people. This includes the online dementia support group for LGBT+ people in Greater Manchester. Dementia United runs the support group once a month providing a safe space for people from the LGBT+ community to express themselves and access support.
Insights from those living dementia also contributed to the creation of the Dementia Care Pathway, which was made available as a digital resource in June 2022. Speaking to those with lived experience highlighted the challenge of finding the correct information and support for all stages of the dementia journey. The Pathway was created to provide a single portal for those diagnosed with dementia and their loved ones to access the support and services available all in one place.
Warren Heppolette, chief officer for strategy and innovation, at NHS Greater Manchester said:
“We are incredibly proud to have such a high diagnosis rate in Greater Manchester. Early diagnosis of dementia is so important – the sooner someone is seen, the quicker we can begin supporting them and putting care into place.
“Our Dementia United programme’s ambition is to improve the experience of those being diagnosed with and living with dementia. We put the patient, their families and their carers at the heart of what we do. Listening to their experiences ensures that the support and services we provide are effective and inclusive of all our communities.
“We are continuously looking to how we can improve our services and there is definitely still work to be done in this area. Recently we translated our information on delirium, a condition which commonly effects those diagnosed with dementia, into 16 different languages so that the information was accessible to even more people in our communities.”
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said:
“In 2017 I pledged to make Greater Manchester the UK’s first dementia friendly city region and I am very proud of the progress we have made to achieve this goal, with Greater Manchester now having the highest rate for dementia diagnosis in the North West. The work we are doing here is helping to improve the lives of people affected by dementia. Early diagnosis of dementia helps people to get a better understanding of the condition and what to expect, as well as get the help and support they need as soon as possible.”