Residents across the county worried about their memory or who have been diagnosed with dementia will be able to benefit from a new service.
Buckinghamshire County Council and the Buckinghamshire Clinical Commissioning Groups (Aylesbury Vale and Chiltern), have awarded the Alzheimer’s Society with a contract for the Memory Support Service to start on April 1.
The service aims to offer one-to-one support for individuals and their carers, from their initial concerns about memory loss, through diagnosis, to planning for the future.
More than 6,500 people in Buckinghamshire have been diagnosed with dementia, and this is expected to rise to over 8,000 in the next four to five years.
The new support service means that people can expect to get an initial diagnosis within two weeks wherever they live in the county. Their GP will refer the individual to the local Alzheimer’s team who will use a paper-based questionnaire tool, called the GPCOG (General Practitioner assessment of Cognition), to make an initial assessment. For many people the assessment will not lead to a formal diagnosis of dementia and they can be signposted to other services which will support them more appropriately.
For those who score low with the GPCOG, they will be referred to the Memory Clinic for a closer assessment and will be supported through the process by the Alzheimer’s team. When someone is diagnosed with dementia the support will focus on planning for the future and enable the person to live well at home, as well as signposting to support services for the person caring for them.
Mike Appleyard, Cabinet member for health and wellbeing at the council, said: “This new service gives consistency across the county for anyone who is concerned about their memory, and will give an early indication if someone does have dementia. Forgetting someone’s name, or not remembering where you put your car keys, for example, is not necessarily a sign of dementia, but if someone is concerned that their memory is failing they will be able to get support much more quickly than is currently available.”
The service replaces the memory advice service currently split between Age UK Bucks and the Alzheimer’s Society.
In a joint statement, Dr Alison Banks, Aylesbury Vale CCG’s clinical lead on dementia, and Dr Steve Murphy, Chiltern CCG’s commissioning director for staying healthy and mental health, said: “Getting an early diagnosis for dementia is really important, as it allows time to plan and ensure adjustments can be made to allow people to stay at home for as long as possible. This service means people will get the right information at the right time. Most importantly it means that the individual and their families get the support and guidance they need.”