Dementia community support team shortlisted for national award

March 4, 2019 by

In just under two weeks, a local Dementia Community Support Team will learn if it has won ‘Team of the Year’ in the coveted LGC awards, which recognise the best of local government innovation and service delivery.

The team, who jointly work on behalf of Southend-on-Sea Borough Council and the local NHS, provide support to local residents affected by dementia to make sure they get the support they need while ensuring the local area is as dementia-friendly as possible. 

Since April 2017 ‘dementia navigators’ have been able to provide a single point of contact for those who are expecting or have received a dementia diagnosis and their loved ones or carers. 

Jo Dickinson, senior commissioning manager mental health and dementia at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, explains: “We offer this service from pre-diagnosis through to end of life, because often when someone is living with the question mark of dementia hanging over them, they have to navigate their way through all sorts of appointments and information. Even after diagnosis, the complex nature of this terminal condition and the fact some people living with dementia often have other health conditions, this can often mean repeating the same history to different professionals. 

“The dementia community support team provides, one phone number, one point of contact. It enhances the sense of support and connection that people living with dementia and their loved ones and carers, have with the services they need to access. We have a person-centred approach where the person with dementia is in the middle, the dementia community support team around them and then other agencies, such as dementia groups, community groups, carer’s support groups and charities in the wider circle. We want people with dementia to have a quality of life and that means leading a life in the community and not to feel a stigma of diagnosis.” 

The team put themselves forward for the LGC ‘Team of the Year’ award and in November it was announced that they had been shortlisted. The winner of the award will be announced at a black tie event at the Grosvenor House Hotel in Park Lane, on 13 March.

Jo adds: “We weren’t expecting to be shortlisted. This service used to be operated externally and I think it’s worked bringing it in house because we were all really committed to the vision of what service we wanted to provide. As far as we know, we are the only area that has a service of this kind.”

Cllr Tony Cox, deputy cabinet member for healthy communities and wellbeing, said: “This is fantastic news and an absolute testament to the work that this team has carried out. Their innovative, collaborative approach has created a service that helps reduce the stress for people facing or living with a dementia diagnosis and their loved ones and carers. I think this is a very strong entry and I wish the team the best of luck for the night.”

Dr Jose Garcia Lobera, local GP and chairman for NHS Southend CCG and Dr Kashif Siddiqui, local GP and chairman for NHS Castle Point and Rochford CCG, said: “A diagnosis of dementia can have a big emotional, social, psychological and practical impact on a person. It is important that our local residents affected by dementia are able to get the right support and advice so that they can live well with the condition, based on that understanding. The compassion and dedication shown by the team to support local people and make the local area, businesses and healthcare settings dementia-friendly is inspirational.”

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LGC editor Nick Golding said: “The councils that have been shortlisted for an LGC Award are among the most innovative – and their innovation is providing the best services for residents, despite local government facing enormous budget cuts.”