Over 250 professionals working in dementia care, mental health, acute care, learning disability, and older people’s services recently turned out for the ‘Dementia:

Transforming the Journey’ conference which was held at the Hilton Templepatrick and organised by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the British Psychological Society, and Ulster University.

The purpose of the event was to examine how developments in prevention, treatment, and quality of life can transform the journey for the person with dementia and their carers, and included some interesting and innovative sessions, such as how diet and lifestyle factors could affect the on-set of dementia, cognitive interventions, memory assessment, and dementia care in the acute hospital.

Some top speakers, including several clinical psychology leads, attended to share their views, including representatives from the four main organising bodies as well as University College London, Trinity College Dublin, and the Alzheimer’s Society.

Richard Pengelly, Permanent Secretary Department of Health, who attended to give an opening address, said, ‘This conference was a major event for everyone involved or interested in the provision and delivery of dementia care in Northern Ireland and beyond, and as Chief Executive of the Health and Social Care Board, I was delighted to open it.

‘The programme brought together a range of keynote speakers with international reputations from across the UK and Ireland to present on research, innovation, and best practice on a number of themes. Such events are essential so that we all continue to understand what the health and social care issues are for people and their carers living with dementia.’

Over 30 posters from the various health and social care trusts in Northern Ireland were on display at the event alongside 6 pieces of artwork created by patients with dementia.

Ronan Kehoe, Consultant Psychiatrist for the Northern Trust and RAID lead, commented, ‘It’s great news that people are living longer, but that brings challenges. Services need to be developed based upon the most up-to-date evidence on how to treat and support dementia, and that includes a psychological impact.’

Following successful outcomes for people with dementia there has been considerable interest across the UK in the CLEAR© model which was launched by the Northern Trust in 2016 and includes a psychological aspect to care – as it helps carers to understand dementia from the perspective of the person.

Dementia Together NI has already funded significant training and most recently the development of a manual to help staff to implement the model. The manual is scheduled to be published at the end of June.

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