HEALTH workers joined forces to help improve care for thousands of people affected by dementia.
More than 160 delegates gathered in Durham City for a conference which aimed to pool their experiences, come up with new ideas and look at new ways to support patients.
As part of the event, held at the Radisson Blu hotel, the NHS urged doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals to improve the quality of care for the 30,000-plus people living with the illness in the North East alone.
It was hosted by TV and documentary presenter Kate Sturgess, who cared for her own father after he was diagnosed with dementia.
Organisers said the conference marked an important step as the region’s NHS responds to the Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent call to action to improve dementia care.
Professor Stephen Singleton, medical director at NHS North of England, said: “Dementia is one of the single biggest healthcare issues facing the NHS and with an ageing population is likely to touch the lives of each and every family right here in the North East.
“It is vital that both the local NHS, together with third sector and independent partners across health and social care, recognise not only the scale of the challenge in delivering high quality dementia care, but also in increasing our awareness, knowledge and early diagnosis of the illness.
“People with dementia have the right to expect the very best compassionate care and while there are many local examples of exceptional care, equally we know there is huge variation in what people experience.”
England is one of the first countries in the world to launch a national plan which aims to deliver major improvements in dementia care, diagnosis and research by 2015.
Among those to support the conference were the Alzheimer’s Society, the Patients’ Association, the Royal College of Nursing and the County Durham and Darlington Dementia Collaborative.
Caroline Burden, area manager for the North East and Cumbria at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “How we care for people living with dementia today is just as vital as the research which is under way to find a future cure.
“Improving care now is often what matters most to those patients and families dealing with dementia on a daily basis.
“It’s great that the NHS in the region is working with charities and other organisations to improve the way we care for people with dementia. No one organisation can take on this challenge alone. All of society, from the boardroom to bus drivers, have a role to play in tackling dementia and making our communities better for people living with the condition.”