Last updated 14:09 Monday 18 May 2015 by Claire Wilde, City Hall Reporter
A PIONEERING project looks set to put Bradford at the forefront of the battle against dementia.
Bradford Council has teamed up with a host of organisations, including two of the country’s top three universities, on what is being described as the most comprehensive study of its kind ever carried out by a local authority.
In an 18-month project, public health bosses, academics, hospitals and GPs, voluntary groups, patients and their families have come together to show how dementia affects people’s lives in Bradford.
The work shines a light on the current picture in the district, as well as looking forward to what the problem might look like in five years’ time.
It will also set out an action plan of what health bosses and others will need to do to help prevent people developing dementia, improve the lives of those with the condition and ease the burden it places on families.
The findings will be revealed today, but are expected to show that the number of people with dementia is predicted to rise by an estimated 15 per cent by 2020, to around 5,750.
And to mark the beginning of dementia awareness week today, those involved are unveiling a new five-year dementia strategy for the district.
Dr Andrew O’Shaughnessy, consultant in public health for Bradford Council, is one of those who has been leading the project.
He said dementia was “one of the greatest, if not the single greatest, health and social care challenge we are currently dealing with”.
He said: “People are living longer. It’s basic arithmetic to say we are going to get more dementia, because it is predominantly – but not exclusively – a disease of old age.
“We don’t have a way of curing dementia. I know people are working on it but it is not something we can afford to look at because it is not on our radar. It is not on anybody’s radar.
“What we want to do is we want people to live well with dementia.”
Dr O’Shaughnessy said another important aspect of the work was looking into how people’s lifestyles affected the likelihood they would develop the condition in the first place.
He said: “One in three cases of dementia is the result of bad lifestyle choices.
“Quitting smoking, improving your diet and getting enough exercise at a younger age could help prevent people getting dementia in the first place.
“We’re also looking at how we can improve the quality of life for those with the disease by allowing people with dementia to stay in their own homes for as long as possible and further improving the care they get.”
In one groundbreaking strand of the work, health bosses have teamed up with world-class academics from Oxford University and the London School of Economics on a five-year research project funded by the Health Foundation.
The research, which is now under way, aims to measure the cost-effectiveness of every £1 spent on dementia projects in the district, so funding can be ploughed into the most value-for-money schemes.
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Dr O’Shaughnessy said throughout the project they had been working very closely with Bradford University’s School of Dementia Studies, keen to harness the expertise on their doorstep.
And he said Bradford was now leading the way with work to create dementia-friendly communities.
The new five-year strategy sets out five main aims for the district’s health and care services.
– To keep people with dementia in their homes for as long as possible;
– To increase the focus on dementia in care homes;
– To increase awareness of prevention of dementia through healthy lifestyles;
– To provide high-quality end-of-life care for people with dementia;
– To enable people to live well with dementia.
Councillor David Green, council leader and chairman of the district’s Health and Wellbeing Board, said: “The welfare of vulnerable people is a priority for the district and addressing health inequalities.
“Bradford district is leading the way in developing a number of dementia-friendly programmes and the actions that come from this strategy will make a real difference to people’s lives.
“The work being carried out in Bradford is pioneering and at the forefront of dementia research, which will enable other local authorities to develop their own strategies.”