A ground-breaking project to help improve the care people with dementia receive now and in the future has won another top NHS award.
Time for Dementia pairs families with trainee healthcare professionals affected by the condition in the first project of its kind in the world. It won in the Improving Outcomes through Learning and Development category at the HSJ awards on Wednesday 22 November. This is just weeks after scooping the Education award at the National Positive Practice in Mental Health awards in October.
The initiative, launched two years ago, involves more than 1,300 medical, nursing and paramedic students spending regular time with more than 600 families affected by dementia.
Students visit a family three or four times a year for up to two hours each time. The idea is to improve knowledge, attitudes and empathy towards people with dementia and their carers.
The programme is being delivered by Brighton and Sussex Medical School and the University of Surrey in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society and the NHS.
It is funded by Health Education England, working across Kent, Surrey and Sussex which is the body that funds undergraduate training of healthcare professionals. The other NHS organisation taking part, alongside Sussex Partnership, is Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
The programme has proved so successful that two further Universities have become partners. The University of Greenwich and the University of Canterbury will now roll out the programme among their medical students.
Time for Dementia is led by Professor Sube Banerjee, Director of the Centre for Dementia Studies at Brighton and Sussex Medical School / Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.
He said: "We are delighted and proud that Time for Dementia has been recognised with this award and that we are able to expand the programme through the Universities of Greenwich and Canterbury.
"We want to help healthcare students understand what it is really like to live with a long-term health condition like dementia. Through this programme they learn about what it is to be old and ill in society, and how people adapt and manage living with serious long-term illness over time. This helps build compassion and understanding. And it helps equip students for their future careers as health professionals and helps us provide better care.
"This is the most ambitious programme of its type anywhere in the world. It is already changing the way in which healthcare students of the future learn about dementia."
More than 850,000 people live with dementia in the UK and 25 million have a friend or family member with the condition. Sussex and the South East has the highest proportion of older people of any area in the UK. Across Sussex over 25,000 people currently have dementia and this is set to rise to 30,000 over the next 10 years.
Lauren Merrison, Alzheimer's Society Programme Manager for the Time for Dementia programme, said: "We are absolutely thrilled have been awarded this honour. It is true testament to the work we’ve accomplished since the programme launched in 2015.
"This programme gives the students a chance to learn from the experts on dementia – the people directly affected by the condition. It’s a good way for them to gain knowledge first hand of what it’s like living with dementia and the challenges they have to overcome.
"There are more than 43,700 people living with dementia in Surrey and Sussex and it’s crucial that more people in the field of healthcare are aware of the condition."
Families interested in taking part should call Lauren Merrison at the Alzheimer's Society on 07713 779582 or email her at email@example.com.