Ambitious plans to transform dementia services in Somerset

By Emma Dance

16th May 2022 | Local News

People living with dementia will have the chance to try out new technologies at the open days
People living with dementia will have the chance to try out new technologies at the open days

Health and social care organisations in Somerset have unveiled ambitious plans to invest in services and transform care for the county's 9,400 people living with dementia.

Somerset County Council is working with the NHS Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group and community and charitable sectors to redesign nursing and residential homes, and invest in new technologies and services which help people remain living independently in their own homes.

Care providers, people living with dementia, and their carers will play a key role in the redesign through extensive consultation over the next two years. This will include open days where people with dementia can try out new technologies, interactive events to engage decision makers in the realities of living with dementia, and webinars with providers to find out what works well, and what needs to be improved.

 Mel Lock, Somerset County Council's Director of Adult Social Care said: "We have more than 9,400 people in Somerset who live with dementia, and we are absolutely committed to ensuring they have a say in designing the services which they will use going forward. It is important for people with dementia to have opportunities to participate in the activities that they enjoy, and we are investing in services which will help them to enjoy interesting, varied lives where they can be as independent as possible.

"We'll be working closely with our fantastic providers across Somerset to support them to deliver new and improved models of care and support which bring a range of excellent activities into care homes, as well as new technology which will equip the social care workforce with the digital tools, knowledge, and confidence they need to deliver outstanding quality care."

 A spokesperson from NHS somerset Clinical Commissioning Group said: "It's exciting to be working together with our partners across health, social care, and the voluntary sector to design the new Somerset Dementia Wellbeing model for the people of Somerset. We are using the model to seek funding for investment in community dementia services to improve the quality of life for the 9,400 people in Somerset who live with dementia. It's also really important to support carers, so a lot of the work we're doing involves talking to people to find the best ways to do that. We'll be working closely with providers, people who live with dementia, and their families to make sure that these services are fit for the future."

 The investment follows a Government White Paper - 'People at the Heart of Care' – which aims to boost investment into housing, invest in new technologies, and improve the delivery of care and support services by increasing funding for local authorities and investing in local initiatives which enable innovation in the way care is delivered. 

 Being able to access, understand, and use technology such as smart phones and the internet can help people find information and access the services they need. However, recent research by Age UK highlighted that more than 40% of people aged 75+ do not use the internet. And Office for National Statistics (ONS) data shows that 14.9% people with a disability have never used the internet, compared to 6.3% of the UK population.

 Recent research also showed that 23% of care home staff cannot access the internet consistently at work, with 45% of providers expressing concern that care staff lacked digital skills.

 As part of its plans to invest further in dementia, Somerset County Council will invest in new technology equipping the social care workforce with the digital tools, knowledge, and confidence they need to deliver outstanding quality care.

 All Specialist Residential Care Homes and Older Persons Mental Health Homes will also be able to access a range of new technology and training which they can use to support people to enjoy more independence and to feel more connected with family and friends. These could include; The Oyster Watch, with GPS tracking to keep people safe and give families peace of mind and ensure that independence is maximised; or The Rosebud Reminder Clock which provides useful prompts to help people remember things and reassure them if they are feeling anxious.

 There are also plans to work with providers across Somerset to support them to deliver new and improved models of care and support. This will include bringing a range of community-based activity groups - such as FroglifeReminiscence Learning, and The Reader - into care settings to provide fun activities such as arts and crafts, music, baking, painting, exercise, and nature-based activities.

Want to have your say about dementia services and how they can be improved? Email: [email protected]

May 16-22 is #DementiaActionWeek, a national campaign to raise awareness about dementia. You can follow the council on Twitter / Facebook / Tiktok

Interested in working with people who live with dementia? Browse vacant social care roles at www.proudtocaresomerset.org.uk/jobs

Providers with job vacancies can submit these online by filling in a short form: Proud to Care – submit a new job role – Somerset County Council

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