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Dementia care awarded £50m government funding

NHS trusts and local authorities will have access to a £50m funding pot to create “dedicated” care homes and wards for people with dementia, the government has announced.

The money is hoped to aid the treatment of the disease by creating tailored environments that help avoid confusion and keep patients calm.  

Research by think tank The King's Fund showed “cluttered” ward layouts and poor signage in hospitals and care homes were the top reasons for causing confusion and distress in people with dementia.

The funding pot will be used to adapt care homes and hospitals using the design principles proven by The Kings Fund pilots to help people with dementia overcome common problems associated with the condition, such as wandering and anxiety.

Such specially designed rooms and spaces could include: hi-tech sensory rooms that use lighting, smells and sounds to stimulate those with dementia; photographs that connect patients to their past; and specially adapted outside space to help dementia patients keep busy and active.

“Being one of the best for dementia is a priority for this government, and doing what we can to help people with the condition feel more safe and secure in their environment is an important part of this,” said Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.

“Responding with dignity and compassion to dementia is the only sensible reaction to the urgent challenges we face as our population ages.”

Funding will only become available to those care providers that sign up to the Dementia Care and Support Compact, which commits them to providing first rate care and support for people with dementia and their families.

Successful bids will form part of a national pilot to showcase the best examples of 'dementia friendly environments', the outcomes of which will be used to advise local health and wellbeing boards.

“Whether it's a sunny day or calming decor, the environment around us has a real impact on our quality of life,” said Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of the Alzheimer's Society.

“This is especially true for people with dementia who may be experiencing sensory difficulties or may become confused in unfamiliar places.

“Designs that connect people with their past and promote a personalised care approach to help reduce anxiety and confusion can be particularly beneficial. Two thirds of people in care homes have some form of dementia and numbers of those with the condition are soaring so delivering quality care across the board is vital.”

Local areas can bid for funding over the next few months and projects are likely to be able to commence in April 2013.