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Chris Roberts, Vice-chair of the EWGPWD, helps monitor progress made on Dementia action plan for Wales

Friday 09 August 2019

After being involved in producing the “Dementia action plan for Wales 2018-2022”, it was agreed that there should be a group to oversee progress, including experts by experience, people affected by dementia, as well as health professionals, service representatives and the Alzheimer’s Society Wales/Cymru. It’s now 12 months since the first meeting of the “Dementia Oversight of Implementation and Impact Group”, DOIIG (formerly the Dementia Delivery and Assurance Group, DDAG).

This group was set up to ensure that progress regarding delivery of the plan is overseen by, among others, people living with dementia and their carers and families. Progress on the plan will also be a key vehicle for demonstrating achievements and areas for improvement outlined within the Health and Care Standards for Wales. The action plan will be reviewed at the three-year point, to see if anything needs to change or be added, so we can maintain ambitions to make Wales the first “dementia friendly country’ in the world.

The six key themes of the action plan are:

  1. Risk reduction and delaying onset
  2. Raising awareness and understanding
  3. Recognition and identification
  4. Assessment and diagnosis
  5. Living as well as possible for as long as possible
  6. The need for increased support

Each of these themes can be read in the Action Plan itself, which can be consulted, here:

To date, there have been four meeting of the DOIIG, in June 2018, October 2018, February 2019 and most recently in June 2019. For the purposes of transparency, the minutes of each meeting are being published on the Welsh Government’s website (the minutes from 2019 are pending, due to a technical issue).

There have been some tense moments where some members, including myself, have felt like we were getting nowhere, that this was all a tokenistic engagement exercise and that we were being told what was being done after the fact. We have had some very frank discussions, but I am truly pleased to say that we have all listened to each other, learned from each other, and I genuinely feel that, now, we are getting on with the job in hand with a mutual understanding of the macro view, whilst keeping an eye on the micro too.

Regarding progress made so far, I am happy to report the following:

  • Number of dementia-friendly communities increased by 19. Total of 72 dementia-friendly communities now in Wales.
  • First acute hospital in Wales received dementia-friendly status from Alzheimer’s Society. Ysbyty Gwynedd is only second hospital in UK to receive this status.
  • Development of multi-disciplinary teams, with emphasis on involvement of allied health professionals to provide “re-ablement” approach. Crucially, these teams can provide more integrated care through activity driven by statutory and voluntary sectors.
  • Examples of person-centred approach include a number of flexible and enabling respite supports, such as flexible outreach; offering respite options beyond traditional respite admission to care homes; increase in support for those in care homes or hospitals; projects that support planned discharge from hospitals.
  • In addition to funding routed through integrated care fund, Welsh Government support provided to Welsh ambulance services trust (WAST), allowing for a dementia team, training and awareness for champions, and delivery of training for emergency service call-takers. WAST also involved in establishing all-Wales blue-light dementia working group to share best practices. Aim is to ensure all staff are trained to understand needs of people affected by dementia and how to provide support.
  • Public Health Wales’s “1000 Lives” programme working with memory assessment services to agree standards and principles services will work towards as part of dementia pathway. Includes pre-diagnosis, assessment period, post-diagnostic support and intervention.

Chris Roberts, Vice-chair of the European Working Group of People with Dementia (EWGPWD) would like to acknowledge input from two fellow members of the DOIIG, in writing this article: Jayne Goodrick (his wife and supporter) and Nigel Hullah (Chair, 3NDWG).