Over the last few years, NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has carried out a comprehensive review of the dementia service pathway from the point of diagnosis to end of life care in collaboration with patients, carers and clinicians.

Dr Paul French, CCG lead for Mental Health and Dementia, said: “We found that some services aren’t working as well as they could do. Among other feedback, we were told that services are fragmented, there is no continuity of staff and people have to wait too long to get a diagnosis.

“To provide high quality care, both now and in the future, we need to do things differently. Lots of older people live in Dorset, which means there will be even more demand for dementia services in the future. We want to improve our services to meet the needs of our population.”

The CCG worked with over 300 people to develop different models of care. The participants identified ideal services and an initial long list of options was considered against critical success factors, including sustainability, best practice, better patient experience and whether it could actually be implemented. A preferred option was chosen as it best met all the criteria.

The proposals have been scrutinised by local Health Scrutiny Committees made up of local elected councillors, who are responsible for scrutinising NHS policy against local needs. The CCG also worked with Wessex Clinical Senate, an independent group of healthcare professionals who assess whether they believe proposals will improve patient care.

Dianne Bardwell, Dementia Services Review Project Manager at the CCG, commented: “The support you receive shouldn’t depend on where you live. During our review, we found that some services only operate in half of the county, while day hospitals deliver care in different ways. We need to make sure people living with dementia, their families and carers, receive the same high quality, compassionate care across the whole of Dorset.”

The preferred option would see an estimated additional investment of £670,000 for dementia services during the first year alone, with further funding required year on year. The proposals set out an ambition to make the diagnostic process smoother and quicker, with patients receiving their diagnosis within 6 weeks of visiting their GP.

For the small numbers of patients who exhibit more challenging behaviours, specialist staff would continue to provide care at the 40 specialist inpatient beds at Alderney Hospital in Poole, while support provided in the patient’s own home would improve to reduce the need for hospital admissions, where possible.

Other changes would include the introduction of 32 new dementia coordinator roles to ensure each patient has an individual care plan in place and is able to get to the right services when they need them.

A public consultation will take place from Monday 17 June to Sunday 11 August 2019. People living in Dorset are invited to attend events that are taking place across the county to learn about the proposed changes to dementia services.

For more details and to have your say, go to www.dorsetccg.nhs.uk/dementia.