National Dementia Strategies
- June 2014: Interview with Health Minister Bent Høie
- Dementia plan 2015
- Norwegian dementia strategy 2020
Norway’s national dementia strategy will expire in 2015 and the government is already planning for the future. In June 2014, Minister of Health Bent Høie spoke to the Norwegian Health Association about both current and upcoming activities to support people with dementia in Norway.
Active involvement of people with dementia
“I think it is very sensible to involve people with dementia in the planning of our future dementia care”, began Minister Høie. “I am interested in having the patients themselves be involved when we make plans that can affect their lives. We are very much inspired by Scotland and the work they do, and have learned a lot about it through our communications with the Norwegian Health Association.”
The planning period for the Norwegian Government’s plan for dementia care, Dementia plan 2015, is expiring next year. The planning of a new strategy for dementia has already started, and according to Minister Høie, it will be natural to involve people affected by dementia in this work:
“It is logical for us to collaborate with the Norwegian Health Association in the planning of a dementia strategy, and to also have a direct dialogue with those who are affected by dementia. Norwegian Health Association has a lot of experience in this area, in addition to an international network, so it is natural for us to co-operate with the organisation.”
The Minister did not reveal if there will be a new dementia plan, or if the strategy for dementia care will be in a different form. “The dementia plan ends next year, and we have to decide if there should be a new plan, or if we should do something else. We are in the process of developing what form the new dementia strategy will have, and before that process has reached its conclusion, I cannot give an answer.”
More knowledge needed
Dementia Plan 2015 is the government’s plan to strengthen the services for people with dementia and their families and carers. According to Høie, one of the biggest challenges is to get all of the municipalities to implement the plan. “The degree to which the municipalities implement the plan varies. About 18% have made their own plan for dementia care and that is good.”
There are also significant challenges in diagnosing dementia. Mr Høie said: “We need more knowledge to be able to give a correct diagnosis. Most people believe that dementia is something you get at the end of your life, but you can get it earlier in life and live with it for a long time. Last year’s annual national telethon had a focus on dementia, which contributed to more general information, but still more people need to know that dementia can be contracted early in life. This is also important when the municipalities are planning their care services.”
The Minister also acknowledged the active role of the Norwegian Health Association. “We already have a good cooperation with the Norwegian Health Association. We work together on the Dementia Plan, and on several other projects. I also see the important work the organisation do locally in the municipalities, both for people with dementia and their family and carers. I hope we can continue this good partnership.”
A regimen of healthy and regular activities
The Dementia Plan 2015 has three main focus areas: more day programmes, living facilities adapted to patient needs and increased knowledge and skills. Since the plan was launched, more people affected by dementia have access to activities on a daily basis, but there are still many who lack such opportunities.
The Minister commented that “we subsidise these activities and we see that the number of applications from the municipalities is increasing, but there still is more money than there are applications. We are looking into the policies for getting subsidies, and at possible changes.”
Mr Høie did not elaborate on the nature of the changes or on when this work might be completed. However, he is very confident that Dementia Plan 2015 is making good progress. “The most important contribution is the progress towards the three main focus areas of the plan. We have subsidies for day programmes, even if we do not have as many applications as we would like. More living facilities are being built, and we are increasing our knowledge and skills in geriatrics and dementia in our care services, which is very important. We are at a different place today than we were before the Dementia Plan 2015 was launched. We are not yet where we want to be, but the plan is working.”
Reduction of salt, sugar and fat
Norway has endorsed WHO’s goal of 25% reduction in deaths related to non-communicable diseases by 2025. According to Høie, the government has initiated several measures to reach this goal.
“We want to reduce salt, sugar and fat in food, and have formed a council with representatives from the food industry. We launched a salt strategy in June, and the council has already, from the first meeting, agreed on common goals for reduction of salt in foods. This will be much better for the consumer, who will not have to read details on food packages to find out how much salt it contains.”
A long life in good health
In closing, Minister Høie provided a glimpse into future activities. “There will also be a new Public Health Report next year, focusing on two main issues: mental health and active ageing. One of the main goals is to reduce the number of early deaths related to nutrition and physical activity. Another goal is the quality of life through the lifecycle, and the importance of good mental health. We want to put mental health and physical health on an equal footing. The other new policy is active ageing. When people live longer, good and active ageing is important, so that we can sustain good health longer.”
Involving people with dementia
People affected by dementia are the experts on what it is like to live with dementia. The Norwegian Health Association is committed to user participation and believes that people affected by dementia can and should be involved in decisions about their care and should be able to influence decisions which can affect their lives. In 2014, the association established a group consisting of people affected by dementia.
The organisation of this group is based on the Scottish Dementia Working Group, which already has 100 members and whose mission is to be advisors for Alzheimer Scotland and the Scottish authorities in matters of dementia. The Norwegian group will operate in a similar manner, giving the Norwegian Health Association advice in relevant strategies and plans, participating in the development of specific projects and providing input to health policy. The objective is for people with dementia to become more involved and also contribute to the Government’s planning of a new dementia plan.
In 2007, the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services launched a seven year national dementia plan called “Demensplan 2015: den gode dagen” (Dementia Plan: making the most of good days). Demensplan 2015 forms part of the national care plan for the coming years.
Dementia Plan 2015
Dementia Plan 2015 is the Norwegian government’s plan to strengthen the services for people affected by dementia and their family and carers. It was launched in 2007, making Norway the first country in the world to have such a plan. The Norwegian Health Association was a strong advocate for this plan.
The Dementia Plan emphasises three main focus areas:
- Day programmes: these programmes are meant to occupy and stimulate patients, be enjoyable and provide them with a meaningful daily existence.
- Living facilities adapted to patient needs: nearly 80% of those who live in nursing homes have a dementia disorder. It is therefore important that new or renovated nursing homes and living facilities are built or adapted for persons with dementia or cognitive failure.
- Increased knowledge and skills: medical expertise is to be increased both locally and through closer follow-up from the specialist health service with regard to diagnosis and treatment. It is important to use medical research to increase knowledge about causes, the development of disease and the forms of treatment.
Norwegian dementia strategy 2020-“A more dementia-friendly society”.
Norway’s Dementia Plan 2020 will follow on from the current dementia plan ending in 2015 and sets new goals and provides the framework for further cooperation between state, municipalities and voluntary sector so that people with dementia can live better with the disease.
The Dementia Plan 2020 emphasises the importance of diagnosis, and models for follow-up when all too often people with dementia experience difficulties in getting a diagnosis, and even with a diagnosis there is little or no follow-up..
“We must be allowed to live full lives, even when we have dementia. Using our own resources makes it easier to cope with life and to live with the disease. Therefore we want to enable people living with dementia to participate more actively in society”, said Minister of Health Bent Høie, when the plan was launched.
The new plan is both an extension and a renewal of the previous one from 2007. New measures include education for people with dementia, models for systematic follow-up after diagnosis, a municipal duty to offer day programmes from 2020, and a programme for raising awareness in different sectors of society.
Mapping shows that there is some way to go before the goals of the previous dementia strategy are reached. In particular, only about 15% of people living at home with dementia in Norway, have a day programme. Efforts to implement the objectives of the Dementia Plan 2015 are well underway, and it is important that this work continues, and receives adequate resources.:
“When the Minister of Health started to work on a renewed plan last year, it was a great victory. We are particularly pleased with the process, whereby both people with dementia and their carers had the opportunity to participate in the preparatory work of the plan, through dialogue conferences around the country. We are proud of the input our members have contributed, by giving politicians an insight into what it is like to live with dementia”, said Lisbet Rugtvedt.
You can download the full plan here:https://www.regjeringen.no/en/dokumenter/care-plan-2020/id2465117/
Last Updated: Tuesday 05 January 2016