New dementia programme is cutting hospital admissions
A Northern Ireland health authority is helping to revolutionise dementia treatment across the country.
CLEAR Dementia Care aims to improve understanding of those with the condition and has dramatically reduced the number of admissions to hospital.
It was developed in the Northern Health Trust and is already being used in two NHS authorities in southern England, Avon & Wiltshire and Devon.
Clinical psychologist Dr Frances Duffy said the son of one person who underwent the programme declared: "I got my dad back."
She added: "The fact people take the trouble to write and say something kind in a society where we are very good at complaining says it all."
The model, called Look At All of Me, was designed and tested by Dr Duffy over an 18-month period.
It has trained staff in 100 care homes in the Northern Trust to help them understand challenging behaviour when people they are looking after become distressed.
Dr Duffy said her programme had meant people were able to stay where they are and reduced the number of hospital admissions for people with dementia.
"We can reduce the distress to families, the amount of complaints we get.
"People write to us and say we like what you did."
Her team monitors people over a period to detect patterns.
"We can see what is happening much more quickly and offer solutions more quickly, reduce distress much more quickly."
The scheme records what time of day a person is aggressive, sleeping, incontinent or pacing.
She explained: "Imagine if someone that you don't know very well came into your room and pulled back the blanket on your bed?
"Of course, you would feel agitated and may come across as aggressive."
The scheme is expected to be used more widely in Northern Ireland in the future.
With an ageing population, increasing numbers are living with dementia.
Around 5% of over-65s are expected to develop it and a fifth of those over the age of 80 have it.
Dr Duffy added: "It is important to remember that the person with dementia has the same needs as all of us but they may have more difficulty telling us what they need.
"When staff, carers and the community understand the perspective of the person with dementia this has a positive impact on their interaction and quality of life."