Concerns raised following report into treatment of dementia sufferers

Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Hartlepool Civic Centre.
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More can be done to improve the patient experience of dementia sufferers in Hartlepool, a report has argued.

Following consulation with many of those living with dementia and their carers, a report from independent consumer champion HealthWatch Hartlepool was presented to the town’s health and wellbeing board.

The report followed concerns expressed by patients and carers in Hartlepool about their experience, particularly post-diagnosis.

HealthWatch development officer Stephen Thomas told the board: “Early in 2016, HealthWatch decided to do a piece of work getting feedback of experiences of that process and looked at practices within GP surgeries in the town.

“The feedback we got through the GP surgeries we felt demonstrated a real commitment on the part of the surgeries to actually look at those processes and ensure that staff within the surgeries had a real awareness of dementia and the sort of issues it creates. It’s very much a work in progress.”

Mr Thomas added: “Certainly post-diagnosis, there are some communication issues with patients and carers, which I think need to be looked at and improved upon. This is still an extremely sensitive area.

“In Hartlepool, over the last five years some real progress has been made to make Hartlepool a more dementia-friendly community.

“There are still some real concerns among carers and those with the condition around the perceived stigma attached to demenia.

“That came through to us with the difficulty we had in getting people to engage with us around dementia.

“It’s a very raw subject for many to speak about.”

Mr Thomas pointed towards some of the support dementia sufferers in Hartlepool have available.

That includes The Bridge, based at the Gemini Centre, in Villiers Street, Hartlepool, which aims to bring together dementia services and make them more accessible.

Mr Thomas has asked the board – made up of several councillors and health bosses – to compile a report showing how communication issues surrounding dementia are being improved.

He said: “There has been an awful lot of work done around dementia diagnosis in Hartlepool. The next step is the support that people and carers receive post-diagnosis. It would be really helpful if a report could come back in six or 12 months outlining how some of the work has progressed and how some of the issues around communication are starting to be addressed.

“It would be nice to see patient and carer experience starting to move in the right direction post-diagnosis.”