THE Western Trust marked Dementia Action Week by offering dementia awareness sessions to carers and staff working within primary care.
Dementia Action week, which ran from May 21 to 27, is a national event that encourages people to take action to improve the lives of people affected by dementia.
It is estimated that approximately 20,000 people are living with dementia in Northern Ireland, with this figure predicted to increase to 60,000 by the year 2051.
It is a priority that those with dementia get a timely diagnosis and they and their carers get the appropriate information and support.
Dementia can be devastating not only for the individual who experiences it, but also for their family; their friends, and their carers.
Family members and carers of those with dementia can play a crucial role in the practical and emotional support and care of those with this condition. However, the impact of the diagnosis can be made worse if carers are not given appropriate information, training and advice at an early stage and throughout the illness.
Dr Bob Brown, director of Primary Care and Older People for the Western Trust, said: “Carer’s surveys carried out in the Western Trust area found that carers’ most pressing need was for education and information to be given at the right time and at the right pace.
“These awareness sessions provide valuable information and tips on how to provide care to a relative or a friend with dementia. It improves carers understanding of dementia, how to communicate with their loved one with dementia. They also provide practical information, such as tips on how to make a person’s home more dementia friendly, and information on local support organisations which can help carers in their caring role."
The aim of the training session being offered to carers and staff working in primary care is to identify the early signs of dementia in their loved ones and the importance of making a timely referral to the Western Trust’s memory service.
It will include an overview of the memory service and the referral criteria. It will also cover what the person and family can expect from the assessment process and the different outcomes a person may experience after they have been assessed.
Dr Brown continued: “The Western Trust is delighted to be able to provide these valuable training sessions to carers and our colleagues in primary care”.