Transforming dementia care in Sunderland - Gentoo Group

Gentoo’s Lindsay Gibbins describes a proactive approach to transforming dementia care, based on compelling evidence.

Lindsay Gibbins at a dementia partnership event in Durham

Tenant profiling reveals that 50% of Gentoo’s current tenants are aged over 50 years, with 30% aged 65 and over.  Based on national estimates, we calculate that around 750 customers are currently living with dementia - something which will increase to more than 1,000 in 15 years.

Two thirds of people with dementia remain in their own homes. However, in Sunderland we know that around half are undiagnosed, and therefore missing out on help, care and support.

Our vision is to Improve the Art of Living Beyond our Imagination and we feel that health is a key to achieving this; by helping people live well and independently within our communities. 

From a business point of view too taking a proactive approach makes good commercial sense. We are experiencing increasing demand on housing services because of cognitive problems – requests for lock changes because of lost keys, for example, plus rent arrears and increased visits to customers who are confused and struggling to cope.

When we considered the amount of contact we have with our customers (just over 500,000 interactions a year), we saw an opportunity to make a difference.

Early diagnosis is important but so are low-level interventions, such as ensuring people are maintaining a healthy diet and receiving personalised support as their needs change over time. These may reduce the speed and progression of the disease and promote quality of life.

We are developing a whole system approach by working with our CCGpublic health team, the voluntary sector and the local authority to improve services and support for people with dementia and their families.

All our frontline staff have received dementia awareness training, with some holding additional NVQ qualifications and our wellbeing team have received training to complete the initial cognitive assessments that enable us to refer people for early diagnosis, where there is cause for concern.

We have received a £60,000 grant from the Local Innovation Fund, through the North East Dementia Alliance to develop a new case management system for those living with dementia. Called Healthwise, this innovative computer-based information system allows frontline staff to input details of relevant call-outs and interactions. We can flag up problems using an early warning system, map prevalence amongst our residents and refer people to other agencies at an early stage. The system is being tested and once evaluated we plan to roll it out as a commercially-licensed product.

For more information please contact operations manager Lindsay Gibbins on 0191 525 5012.