£207,000 boost for Oxfordshire dementia support

VOLUNTEERS and staff working with dementia sufferers in Oxfordshire are to benefit from a £207,000 cash injection from the Government.

The county council is one of a number of local authorities that will deliver a new initiative providing support and advice for people diagnosed with dementia — and help for their families.

As part of the National Dementia Strategy, dementia sufferers and their carers will be able to receive support and advice from advisers in a number of GP surgeries across Oxfordshire.

The council will receive £207,000 over two years from central government and will work with Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust and the Alzheimer’s Society to deliver the services.

County councillor Jim Couchman, cabinet member for adult services, said: “I am delighted that we have been chosen to be a demonstrator site for dementia advisers.

“This puts us in a strong position to continue improving services for people with dementia in Oxfordshire.”

Julia Hamer-Hunt, of Adapt, the all-age dementia advocacy project at Barton Neighbourhood Centre, said: “This new funding is very welcome and will help dementia sufferers around the county.

“My full-time position costs about £20,000, including administration and computer costs.

“We also have three volunteers and our workload means that we need another advocate, so we will see if we are eligible to apply for any of this funding.”

Staff at the project, which is part-funded by Comic Relief, provide advice for those with dementia on their social services care, or try to find them suitable accommodation.

Penny Thewlis, from the Oxfordshire branch of Age Concern, said: “This offers us the opportunity to make a real difference locally to the lives of people with dementia and their carers in areas where they have been telling us that they need the help.”

101 local authorities applied to be demonstrator sites, and the county council was one of 22 selected for the scheme.

Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “This marks the beginning of an exciting period of transformation in dementia care as we begin to see the promises of the National Dementia Strategy put into action.

“Demonstrator sites will explore the best ways of reaching out and supporting people living with dementia.”

Care Services Minister Phil Hope said: “We know that people with dementia and theirfamilies are under huge strain.

“Dementia advisers will be there for them when they need help, from diagnosis onwards.”

Alongside the 22 areas piloting dementia advisers, a further 18 sites will test different kinds of support networks for families and carers.