Thousands of people with dementia are being rushed to hospital emergency departments in Dorset, according to NHS statistics.

More than 5,386 people over the age of 65 and living with dementia in Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset county were admitted to A&E in 2017 to 2018, and now local carers and families are being sought to share their experiences and views on the NHS services supporting people living with dementia.

Independent health and care champion Healthwatch Dorset has launched What would you do? to encourage people in the county to share their views about what changes to local NHS services should look like.

The Government has developed a ten year plan for the NHS covering the whole of England.  Local organisations have now been asked to work out what changes will be made locally to help make the NHS better for local people.

Louise Bate, Healthwatch Dorset Manager, said: “With an estimated 8,256 people living with dementia in Dorset, it’s alarming to see so many of these people being admitted to A&E.  Is this because they have nowhere else to go or that specialist dementia care is simply not available?

“Our role at Healthwatch is to ensure we gather views both good and bad from members of the public and then pass these on to the decision-making bodies who plan, pay for and run these services in Dorset.  It’s important that people have a say in how their local health and care service is run, so they can help shape it for the better.”

89-year-old James Sanger, from Poole looked after his wife Phil for seven years after she was diagnosed with vascular dementia.  She died last May after her condition deteriorated.  He said he received first class help from his local surgery but noted others in the county didn’t receive the same level of care.

He said: “After Phil was diagnosed with dementia at Lilliput Surgery, the very next day nurses came to visit us and we got all the support we needed.  I have nothing negative to say about the health care we received, we had magnificent support from the surgery particularly from the district nurses.

“But if you happen to live in an area in Dorset where the surgery doesn’t support you so well, things can be very different.  Speaking to other carers, I was shocked and amazed at the lack of support they were getting.  I think the surgeries were not communicating with them and people were not aware of the facilities and support available to them.  I would like to see as part of the NHS Long Term Plan better communication to dementia patients and their families on the help and support available to them.”

Healthwatch Dorset is also keen to hear from people about how other health services could improve, including those that support people with mental health conditions, cancer, heart and lung diseases, learning disabilities and autism.  People can also share their views about how the NHS can help them stay well, and take more control over their health and care.

Representatives from the local NHS will also be carrying out engagement work with patients, staff and the community to encourage feedback on the local plan.

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