People in Somerset with dementia are being helped to stay at home in their own surroundings thanks to a specialist NHS support service.
The intensive dementia support service (also known as IDSS) was set up in the east of Somerset in August following the temporary closure of Yeovil’s older people’s mental health ward.
It’s for patients who either have a diagnosis of dementia or are displaying challenging behaviours and would have otherwise been admitted to an older people’s mental health inpatient unit, such as Pyrland ward in Taunton.
The service is also helping to keep patients at home in their familiar surroundings rather than being admitted to the district general hospitals at Yeovil or Musgrove Park.
And now, thanks to additional funding from the Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group, the service has been extended to patients in the west Somerset area.
So far almost 600 patients across the county have benefited from the service, which has helped to change the lives of those with dementia, as well as their carers.
Dr Matt Hayman, interim chief medical officer at Somerset Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said:
“We are delighted to have extended our intensive dementia support service to patients in the west of Somerset.
“The service gives patients and carers that crucial support at the times they need it the most. We know that people with dementia tend to struggle first thing in the morning, at the evenings and at weekends, so our service provides support 8am – 8pm, seven days a week.
“We know that patients prefer to be cared for at home where possible in their own comforts and we know that hospital is often the worst place for someone with dementia to stay at as they can become even more disorientated in unfamiliar surroundings.
“We’ve had great feedback from carers about the service, particularly about how quickly the service can respond – usually within 24 hours. They have also said they value the communication they have with staff and feel they are kept up to date and involved as much as possible with the care of their loved one.”
Steve White (pictured), from the Somerton area, said the IDSS made a huge difference to the care of his wife.
“When my wife’s Alzheimer’s began to decline rapidly my GP arranged for the IDSS team to come in to assess what help she would benefit from,” he said.
“The team took the pressure off me at the important times and gave me the confidence that they were always on hand to help when we needed them.
“Without their help I’m sure my wife would have been admitted to an inpatient unit, which would have been difficult to imagine.”
Claire Jackson, from the Chard area, said the service provides a crucial lifeline for her mum, who has dementia.
“My mum and dad managed to tick along for a few months until the beginning of this year when my mum went into a major crisis and deteriorated quite drastically.
“The team came in to visit us and dramatically changed mum’s medication and supported us through the weekend and decided that she didn’t need to be assessed for hospital.
“I don’t think mum would have coped at all in the hospital as she’s a really quiet and shy lady so I think all the noise and activity would have upset her.
“My dad definitely didn’t want her to go and I think it would have really damaged his mental health so the amazing support the IDSS team gave us was fantastic.”
For more information about the IDSS, go to www.sompar.nhs.uk.