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Dual role for new dementia intensive support team

A new dual-purpose dementia intensive support team (DIST) that has access to emergency beds but works in the community to reduce hospital admissions will be launched by the Trust in April.

The DIST will be based at the Julian Hospital’s Henderson Ward, which will also take over the role of the six-bed Oxburgh Ward when it closes in the spring.

Oxburgh Ward has previously cared for a small number of older people with mental health needs when the Sandringham and Blickling acute wards are under pressure. However, Oxburgh Ward is not currently in use due to a drop in demand.

The new DIST has a community focus. Up to nine emergency beds will be available, but the team will not be reliant on in-patient facilities. The emphasis will be on working with care homes to improve the quality of life of both residents and support care staff, and with a view to reducing the number of acute admissions.

The DIST will start its work in North Norfolk, and will roll out across the county during the course of 2010.

The DIST is underpinned by the connected themes of education, training, research, and practice. It has also been driven by the National Dementia Strategy, the National Carers’ Strategy, and by the ‘Living well with Dementia’ strategy issued by NHS Norfolk, Norfolk County Council, and Great Yarmouth and Waveney NHS Trust.

The main aims are to enhance the quality of care people with dementia receive in Norfolk; to support people to live at home for longer; to improve support for carers; and to increase choice for patients and carers.

The modernisation of older people’s services means the development of capacity to meet growing demand must go hand-in-hand with a reduction in the proportion of admissions to hospital.

The DIST’s role in education and training will support the academic model of the new Dementia Intensive Care Unit (DICU) being built by the Trust. It is anticipated that the development of a flexible workforce with enhanced knowledge and skills will lead to improved awareness and dementia care skills in the wider community.