Through NHCP’s iCAN programme, several organisations (Northants Carers, Alzheimer’s Society, Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Northamptonshire Adult Social Services, Admiral Nursing and Age UK Northamptonshire) have been working together to support people with dementia and their carers. This work is being focused in a number of ways in these challenging times:

1. Supporting people waiting for diagnosis, Memory Assessment Services, Northamptonshire Carers and Alzheimer’s Society working in partnership to provide extra support
2. Developing online support for people with dementia and their carers via groups, activities and events
3. Improving the assessment process and timescales
4. Looking at new models of support such as memory hubs and groups for when face-to-face provision can return

The ambition is to create a better diagnosis experience with guidance, information and support available at the right time throughout people’s dementia journey, before and after diagnosis.

Previously a diagnosis has been required to allow people to access next levels of support. Recognising that needs exist before diagnosis has been confirmed, this approach has been changed.

Working with the NHFT Memory Assessment Service, partner organisations are now able to support people while they are awaiting their appointment and offer this support for as long as they need it.

From diagnosis, people are offered a holistic support programme that is personalised and meaningful, with a menu of services offered that will be inclusive and diverse enough to attract everyone who needs
it, whenever they need it. Throughout the journey, carers, patients, families and service users will continue to be asked what they want.

The new early access to support is now operating in the East Northamptonshire and Wellingborough locality area. A short test and learn cycle will be completed before the approach is expanded to the
whole county.

Dawn Panter, Health and Social Care Development Manager for Northamptonshire Carers, said: “Working in partnership and in integrated ways is making a real difference already and we are very excited to move onto the next stage of our plans.

“We are confident that they will make a real difference to people with dementia and their carers, and we are really touched by some of the feedback we have received from our online services and the
differences they has made to people.”

Tracey Shepherd, Operations Manager for Older Adults Mental Health Community Teams at NHFT, added: “Working in collaboration with our partners on this project is an exciting new way of working for us all.

“It is essential to ensure a range of support is offered to individuals and their families/carers in a timely manner to improve outcomes for those in need.

“This work now has set the foundation for us all working towards creating a real positive benefit for our patients showing compassion, trust, transparency and a shared responsibility between all.”

“I feel much more confident and able to cope”

Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, plans to develop a ‘memory hub’ for people with dementia and their
carers were still implemented during 2020 – thanks to remote conferencing technology.

Doorstep information technology sessions, supported by Carers Trust Connecting Carers funding) have seen people equipped with tablets and the skills to use them. They have often then gone on to use those skills to engage remotely with family, friends and other social groups.

Below are just a few examples of the positive feedback from online groups which are currently running for people with dementia and their carers, including fitness, art, music, memory-sharing and health and wellbeing sessions.

  • “The meetings have helped me immensely. I felt very comfortable and found I was able to participate and communicate easily.”
  • “I have learned a lot during the sessions and feel much more confident and able to cope.”
  • “I always come away from the meetings with a sense of calm. We are able to have a few giggles too!”
  • “Getting Dad to a venue may be difficult sometimes. Knowing there is a Zoom meeting means I can still be in contact with the other carers and support team.”
  • “G (person with dementia) sings a solo for us each week at the choir and we can see his joy as he joins in with everyone.”
  • “Enjoyed meeting some like-minded people who are experiencing similar things.”