The GHA has announced a new 5-year National Dementia Strategy to facilitate an improvement in the quality of life of those living with dementia and their families and carers by strengthening existing services using an integrated and focused approach.

The new strategy builds on existing services and takes a multi-agency stakeholder method so that the person living with dementia becomes central to the service provision. This will achieve the best possible outcomes at all stages of the dementia journey for the person living with dementia, their families, their carers and the Gibraltar community.

The National Dementia Strategy aims to improve public and professional awareness and understanding of dementia in Gibraltar. Improving awareness and understanding will inform individuals and their families about the importance of early diagnosis and promote the prevention of dementia. Raising both awareness and understanding will encourage behaviour change in terms of seeking help and provision whilst reducing stigma.

The 2023-2028 strategy has four key objectives aimed at improving the quality of life for people living with dementia:

1. Raising awareness and understanding to ensure better knowledge about dementia and removing the associated stigma.

2. Early diagnosis and support to ensure that people with dementia get the necessary support and treatment as early as possible.

3. Living well with dementia to develop the necessary services to meet the needs of people living with dementia in the community.

4. Leadership and Governance to ensure we have the right people in the right place/position with the right skill set to implement this strategy.

To achieve its vision, the GHA has appointed Deputy Nursing Coordinator Karen Truman to the newly established role of Dementia Coordinator to lead on the implementation of this strategy. This post will be central to the interactions between government departments, charities, voluntary organisations and the community and will be held to account by all stakeholders for performance managing the roll-out of the Strategy’s key objectives. As Dementia Coordinator Karen will make a significant difference in guiding people living with dementia and their families and main carers through the dementia journey by facilitating a two-way process that enables people with dementia to contribute directly to the policymaking and strategies. She will link with the community by signposting and facilitating the required health and social care input through the dementia journey.

The Dementia Coordinator will be held to account by the National Dementia Steering Group for the implementation of all plans and actions. The function of this Steering Group is to ensure the strategy is achieved by working together towards meeting its goals and objectives. This Steering Group will work closely with service users and their representatives and report to the relevant boards/committee structure within their organisations. The strategy will be underpinned by a detailed action plan including a financial/workforce plan with key milestones set for each year to ensure objectives are achieved and that any financial challenges are addressed as part of the annual budget setting processes by all organisations involved. An annual review will also take place on how well the objectives of this strategy have been implemented.

The GHA Director General, Prof Patrick Geoghegan OBE, said: ‘As Chair of the Gibraltar National Dementia Steering Group, I would like to thank the GHA, ERS and our key partners including the Care Agency, Housing Department, and voluntary organisations particularly the Gibraltar Alzheimer’s and Dementia Society, for their input and support in developing this document. Importantly, I’d like to thank the people who use our services and their carers who have helped us understand what it is like to live with dementia. In this way, I believe the strategy reflects the needs of the service user. I would also like to thank our staff who work so hard to serve the needs of people with dementia and their caregivers. As Director General, I am proud to be associated with the development of this strategy and am delighted that a Multi-Agency Steering Group continues to oversee its implementation.’

Minister for Health and Care, the Hon Albert Isola, said: ‘Our vision is to create a Dementia Friendly Country, where people with dementia are valued and able to live well at every stage of their dementia journey. This strategy will raise awareness and understanding of dementia, facilitating an early diagnosis so that people living with dementia, and their families and carers, can be supported to live and die well with dementia, anywhere in Gibraltar. As Minister for Health and Care I give my full support to the National Dementia Steering Group in delivering this most important agenda.

The Chief Minister, the Hon Fabian Picardo, said: ‘There is no subject that could be closer to my heart than our Health Authority's approach to thise with dementia. I know this is as true for other members of the Government and Parliament and many in out community who have seen loved ones held hostage by dementia in its various forms. Beyond the GHA, the Government is committed to ensuring that Gibraltar is a Dementia Friendly community. This strategy is an important step forward in bringing together services and stakeholders to ensure that those living with this disease, and their families, are cared for in the most respectful and dignified manner.’

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