Improving Dementia Services in Northern Ireland: A Regional Strategy
It is estimated that at present in Northern Ireland there are 19,000 people living with dementia; fewer than 1000 of these people are under 65. As the population of Northern Ireland ages, dementia will increasingly be a major public health and societal issue, with numbers of people with dementia rising to 23,000 by 2017 and around 60,000 by 2051. The cost to society is also likely to increase dramatically. The dementia strategy will attempt to reduce the risk or delay the onset of dementia in the population; it has been estimated that delaying the onset of dementia by five years could halve its prevalence. Everyone needs to know that there are things that can be done to reduce the risk of dementia and to be aware of possible signs and symptoms of dementia. The strategy and the values and principles which underpin it have been informed by the views of people with dementia and their families. A key message from them is that people with dementia should be supported to live with dignity and without stigma. There needs to be better awareness of dementia - among the general population, those who provide services to the public and, in particular, those who provide health and care services. The knowledge and skills of the staff involved in caring for people with dementia – whether in services specifically designed for people with dementia or in more general services – are a key element in improving services. Action on staff training and development is included in the action plan. The majority of care is provided by family and other informal carers, who in turn need support in their role.