New dementia centre planned for region

A PIONEERING �13.7m centre to help the rising number of people with dementia will soon be established to serve Norfolk and Waveney.In the biggest investment it has ever made, the Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Trust is leading the way in the provision of care for the thousands of people struck down with dementia every year.

A PIONEERING �13.7m centre to help the rising number of people with dementia will soon be established to serve Norfolk and Waveney.

In the biggest investment it has ever made, the Norfolk and Waveney Mental Health Trust is leading the way in the provision of care for the thousands of people struck down with dementia every year.

The 36-bed Dementia Intensive Care Unit (DICU), billed as the first of its kind in Britain, will be built at the Julian Hospital site, in Bowthorpe Road, Norwich.

The centre, set to open in the winter of 2011/12, will be a therapeutic resource, which will promote well-being and help people with dementia function better in every day life.

There will be homelike furnishings, individual care plans and sensory treatments, all delivered in a non-institutional environment.

Dementia costs the UK economy �17bn a year, and in the next 30 years, the number of people with dementia in the UK will double to 1.4m - with costs trebling to more than �50b a year.

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Claire Cornier, programme manager for DICU, said: “The new centre will be unique and state-of-the-art. It is the biggest investment the trust has ever made and will change the way dementia patients are cared for.

“It will focus on sensory care and will use visual prompts and creativity to ease behavioural problems. For example, a white bathroom with a white wall does nothing to help some one with dementia. Certain colours and light are therapeutic to them and we will focus on this.

“We are expanding dementia services and this will concentrate on high dependency dementia patients. There are other specialist dementia units in the country, but in terms of what this involves, the care and the investment it really is the first of its kind.”

There are currently 28 beds available for patients at Hellesdon Hospital, but this new purpose-built centre will treat up to 36 people at any one time.

The DICU is the second major investment in providing state-of-the-art mental health treatment facilities in recent years.

In May 2009, the trust opened Justin Gardner House at its Hellesdon Hospital site, housing a psychiatric intensive care unit and low secure unit.

Any investment in dementia services will be welcomed by families in the region as it is predicted by the Alzheimer's Society that, over the next 15 years, more than 91,000 people in East Anglia will have dementia, compared with the current figure of 63,000.

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