Northern Trust launch new memory service in Antrim and Ballymena

Following a successful pilot in East Antrim, the Northern Health and Social Care Trust has launched a new memory service in Antrim and Ballymena.

The service has been established to address the increasing numbers of undiagnosed dementia in the community and in nursing homes and aims to help people to live well with dementia through timely diagnosis and support.

A comprehensive service is offered to include pre-diagnostic counselling, timely comprehensive assessment, post diagnostic counselling, support and education.

If anyone thinks they may have dementia, or know someone who may, they can speak to their GP or other healthcare professionals to request a referral to the service.

Following referral a Memory Link Worker will make contact to explain how the Memory Service works and to offer pre-diagnostic counselling. A comprehensive assessment will then be arranged in partnership with the individual.

The assessment can provide a number of outcomes; it can confirm if an individual has dementia and, if so, the specific type of dementia. It can also confirm if someone doesn’t have the condition and perhaps has a mild cognitive impairment.

People with a diagnosis of dementia are allocated a key worker to offer support and co-ordinate their care. They will also support the individual by planning for care in the future including changes to their routine such as family members going on holidays, or loved ones going into hospital. By providing the right support at the right time, the service can help someone to live well with dementia ensuring they encounter as little stress as possible and preventing a crisis occurring.

The Service also helps families by explaining how dementia works and helping both the individual and family members to interact successfully, thereby reducing the frustration that many people with dementia can experience.

The Trust is currently developing a publicity campaign to dispel some of the myths about dementia which may prevent people from coming forward. Work is also underway with GP colleagues to develop appropriate specialist training to help GPs to recognise early changes in behaviour or cognitive function which may be the result of a dementia.

Dr Frances Duffy, Consultant Clinical Psychologist, Northern trust said “It is a fact that your memory does deteriorate as you get older but if you feel you, or a loved one, may have an undiagnosed dementia please contact your GP. This service is a fantastic support, by getting diagnosed early and having the right support people can still continue to live well”.

It is planned that the service will roll out across the Northern Trust area.

28th January 2015

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