CASES of dementia are expected to rocket in Hartlepool over the next generation by almost 40 per cent.
The shock predicted increase has prompted Hartlepool Borough Council to launch a new investigation into how the illness is diagnosed – and if more can be done to catch it early.
Cases of the mental illness are predicted to rise from 1,148 now to 1,597 by 2030, putting additional pressures on care providers as well as patients’ families.
The inquiry has been welcomed by dementia experts who provide a number of services in town.
The Hospital of God at Greatham charity is Hartlepool’s biggest independent provider of dementia services, including Gretton Court nursing home.
Director David Granath said: “I’m pleased that the council are making this inquiry.
“I think they are doing the right thing in preparing themselves for the future need as well as finding out exactly what the needs are going to be.
“With an increasingly ageing population and people living longer there will be an increased proportion of people with dementia.
“That will have a huge impact, including financially, because people require so much care.
“I think there will be a crisis if we don’t plan for it.”
The increase in cases is seen as a key priority by council and health chiefs.
The new inquiry is being headed by councillors Jim Ainslie and Stephen Akers-Belcher who sit on the audit and governance committee.
They will work with a host of partner agencies including GPs, health commissioners, and voluntary groups to gain a greater understanding of work currently going on in Hartlepool.
It will also focus on how the services available help towards early diagnosis.
A general lack of awareness and information about dementia can lead to delays in proper intervention says the local authority.
Coun Akers-Belcher said: “The investigation is in its early days. We have agreed the scope and who we will consult with and there is going to be a lot of work carried out over the next few months.
“I think we need to look at the reasons for why there is expected to be an increase in cases and our role as a council is to look at ways to raise awareness.”
Work is also going on between the council and numerous partner organisations as they explore Hartlepool becoming an accredited Dementia Friendly Community.