Southend Council looks to introduce new dementia plans as demand threatens to overwhelm services

Councillors have given their support to a plan that could overhaul dementia care after it was revealed that services across south east Essex could be become overwhelmed with demand in 15 years.

The proposal came after a report revealed that the current services could see demand increasing by up to four times the current rate by 2035.

If this were to happen, the report notes that “the current service will not be able to safely manage and support the number of people with dementia”.

To combat this looming threat, a new community-focussed care strategy could be implemented across south Essex with the goal of speeding up diagnosis and improving treatment.

It will include the introduction of Dementia Nurse Specialists in care home teams who will be able to offer advice and support to GPs when making a diagnosis, as well as offer training to care home staff.

A Dementia Intensive Support Team will also work alongside health services such as mental health teams, social services and the ambulance service to help avoid unplanned emergency hospital admissions and relieve the strain on A&E departments.

These measures were given support from members of Southend’s Health and Wellbeing Board during a Wednesday evening.

Councillor Trevor Harp, who chaired the meeting, said: “The driving force behind it is moving to a much-improved level of care in the community to keep people in their homes and around a family environment.

“It will also help to relieve the pressures on hospitals by identifying those needing care and providing them with a care plan before they need to present to A&E departments.”

While the plans still need to be discussed and approved by Southend’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Mr Harp said he would not have given it support if he was not confident it would help to address the growing level of demand. However, he stressed that predicting future demand can always be challenging.

He also acknowledged that finding extra health care workers to fill the new specialist positions can be problematic but said that where possible, the CCG will look to “upskill” workers. With one possible example being care home workers having the opportunity to take on the role of a Dementia Nurse Specialist.

After gaining support from councillors, the plan will be discussed in greater detail by the Southend CCG where details will be fleshed out and financing will be signed-off.

Steve Shaw

Local Democracy Reporter