Dementia support improving

SARAH JARVIS
Last updated 05:00 27/08/2014
ngaire whytock health board
South Canterbury District Health Board candidate Ngaire Whytock.

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The number of South Canterbury people with dementia being sent out of town due to bed shortage in the region is the lowest since January.

This year an average of eight people a month have had to be sent away due to insufficient dementia beds locally. At present only two people remain out of town.

The news was welcomed by those at yesterday's South Canterbury District Health Board's disability support advisory committee (DSAC) meeting.

While the low figure pleased committee members, the board's strategy, planning and accountability general manager Margaret Hill said it "could change any time".

"This does need a level of caution as this picture can change on a daily basis."

DSAC elected member Ngaire Whytock said there had been a shortage of beds for quite a while, so the news was welcomed.

"It's always a last resort when we send people out of town . . . we don't like it, we would prefer to have them near their own home."

Diane Nutsford, of Alzheimers South Canterbury, said there was a lot of positive work being done locally for dementia patients.

She praised the work Presbyterian Support's Community First service was doing.

The Community First Dementia programme was developed in 2011. The service assesses the needs of the person with dementia and includes the stress on their carer, and whether they can both be supported with a package of care, allowing the client to remain in their own home. The number receiving Community First dementia home-based support services was 26 (high and complex) and 33 (complex).

Whytock also acknowledged the work Community First was doing.

"They have been working very hard and it is making a difference."

This week Alzheimers New Zealand launched its new About Dementia campaign, which encourages New Zealanders to "get their heads around dementia".

New research from Alzheimers NZ shows that two out of every three New Zealanders know or have known someone with dementia.

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- The Timaru Herald

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