The time has flown by since we, along with our fellow Challenge Dementia judges, locked ourselves away for the day to consider the 71 applications received in response to the challenge we set. When the prize launched back in January we really could not have anticipated the number of creative ideas that we would receive all seeking to keep those living with dementia connected to the people and places around them.
As well as being judges for the Prize, Sam and I are co-sponsors for Essex Dementia Strategy. The research behind the strategy identified that our services do not always fit together as seamlessly as we would wish them to and that there is more for us to do to provide support for carers as well as those living with dementia.
The strategy is our articulation of what needs to be different and work is underway across the health and social care system as well as in the voluntary sector and Essex communities to turn this vision into reality. It isn’t just about living with dementia but about living a life that continues to be meaningful and fulfilling.
Our vision for the future is one in which people living with dementia are recognised as unique individuals who are actively shaping their lives and their care whilst being able to remain as physically and emotionally healthy as they are able for as long as possible. Doing nothing is not an option and that is why the Challenge Dementia Prize is so exciting.
Essex is not unique, the challenges that people living with dementia face and the system that exists to support them is similar across the Country. The pressures upon the health and social care system are well documented and we share these challenges with colleagues in many other Local Authority areas.
We thought it would be useful to bring to life what the challenge for the Essex system and how it impacts on the work we are doing.
- The number of people with dementia in Greater Essex is predicted to increase by over 31% in the next ten years.
- The highest increase is predicted in those over 85.
- The number of older people in Essex with life-limiting conditions is estimated to increase 40% by 2030, and it is estimated there will be a 31% increase in over 65s with a learning disability.
- The Essex population is getting older. 20% of Essex's total population is currently over 65, 3% over 85. This is projected to rise to 25% over 65 and 5% over 85 by 2030.
- Almost 10% of our residents provide informal care to relatives, friends or neighbours - over half of these carers aged over 50
So there you have it. The things that keep us awake at night! But also the issues that make us want to get out of bed in a morning and strive to make improvements.
We said Essex was like other areas in the pressures we face but what is different is the way we view things and our desire to make improvements. Our work to integrate the health and social care systems speaks to that need to join up services and our investment in the Challenge Dementia Prize acknowledges we don’t have all the answers.
We are really looking forward to hearing about how your ideas have developed over the past 6 months and your reflections on working in Essex.
Peter Fairley, Director of Integration and Partnerships, Essex County Council
Sam Hepplewhite, Chief Officer at North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group