Atlantic believed that the National Dementia Strategy provided a policy basis for a new and different approach to dementia in Ireland, which, if accompanied by the establishment of a National Dementia Implementation Programme (NDIP), would place dementia firmly on the government’s current and future social policy agenda and would, in time, deliver significant service reforms.The National Dementia Strategy, when it was published in 2013, was progressive in highlighting overarching principles of ‘personhood and citizenship’ and the need for a ‘whole community response’ to dementia.
Its stated aim is systemic change – that is, changing societal attitudes to dementia and influencing front-line practice across the whole system of care.
Five priority areas for action were identified:
- Better awareness and understanding
- Timely diagnosis and intervention
- Integrated services and supports
- Training and education
Atlantic targeted three of these priority areas for additional investment within an overall National Dementia Implementation Programme (NDIP).
1. Integrated services, supports and care for people with dementia and their carers
This involved a reconfiguration of existing Health Service Executive resources; dedicated dementia home care packages; and an emphasis on people with dementia living in their own homes.
2. Timely diagnosis and intervention
This identified a key role for GPs and Primary Care Teams (PCTs); training and material to broaden the GP and PCT’s skills base; guidance on national and local pathways to diagnosis; and information about health and social supports.
3. Better awareness and understanding
This involved public awareness; health promotion measures; better understanding of dementia signs and symptoms; combating stigma; promoting an approach of ‘living well’ with dementia; and promoting healthy lifestyles among the population.
Atlantic has contributed €12 million to the overall NDIP funding of €27.5 million to support the implementation and evaluation of the National Dementia Strategy as a whole, with most of the money going to ensure the delivery of intensive home care packages for people with dementia.
“The investment from Atlantic Philanthropies meant that it was possible to do a really comprehensive programme of research and evaluation in support of the Dementia Programme”
Dr Fiona Keogh, HSE-Genio Dementia Project