Bucks Council vows to improve waiting times for dementia diagnosis after comprehensive review

A series of recommendations have been sent to the council
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Bucks Council has vowed to improve its dementia services following an in-depth review into its care programme.

Earlier this year, the council’s Health & Adult Social Care Select Committee carried out an in-depth rapid review of services in the county.

Among the key areas the council is looking to improve as a result of the feedback is the time people are waiting to be diagnosed.

Bucks Council has laid out a series of improvements for dementia care, photo used for illustrative purposesBucks Council has laid out a series of improvements for dementia care, photo used for illustrative purposes
Bucks Council has laid out a series of improvements for dementia care, photo used for illustrative purposes

Committee members investigated the levels of support given to people with dementia and their caregivers.

As a result of the review, a list of recommendations has been put forward.

Carol Heap, Chairman of the Review Group said: “We found many examples of good support for those living with dementia, and their carers. However, we also discovered that many faced long wait times for diagnosis and also struggled to access the support that is available.”

Committee members decided that there needs to be greater collaboration between providers and an overarching strategy should be developed, to ensure a more joined up approach.

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Figures from Bucks Council show that as of September 2022, 4,164 people aged 65+ were diagnosed with dementia in Buckinghamshire. The current rate of diagnosis is 57.3%, against a national target of 66.7%. The estimated number of people with dementia in the county is 7,266, meaning an estimated 3,102 people are living with dementia in Buckinghamshire but remain undiagnosed.

Among the reservations flagged by the local authority were:

-The development of a multi-agency Buckinghamshire Dementia strategy.

-Better partnership working to develop a consistent approach to memory screening and reducing waiting times.

-A named dementia specialist to be introduced in each Primary Care Network and greater partnership working to improve referrals.

-Working more closely with care homes and helping to develop more dementia specific activities to meet the needs of the local community.

-Increased investment in dementia support services and smarter use of existing resources, including the services provided by the voluntary sector.

-A focus on wider awareness raising of the risks associated with dementia and public health messaging on lifestyle choices to aid better understanding of the illness.

Jane MacBean, chair of the HASC Select Committee, said: “This is a very detailed piece of work that shows a true picture of dementia services in Buckinghamshire today.

"We know there is huge pressure on budgets and whilst we need new funding directed towards dementia services, we also need to look at how we can work smarter and make the best use of our existing resources. There are many community groups that deliver fantastic projects that support our residents, but we must explore how we can maximise every opportunity, for example, making use of facilities like our council-run day centres to provide additional support within our communities.”

Councillor Angela Macpherson added: “Dementia is the biggest emerging health issue of our time and is noted as one of the top causes of early deaths for people in England. Although great progress is being made in terms of new treatments and medicines, there is still much to do. It is only right that we as a council, drive forward the work with partners in the health and voluntary sector to improve services.”

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