Luton&Dunstable consultant warns of dementia tsunami

There’s a dementia tsunami heading our way, according to Luton&Dunstable consultant geriatrician Dr Mohamed Didi.
Dementia nurse specialist Yvonne Weldon with the dementia butterfly symbolDementia nurse specialist Yvonne Weldon with the dementia butterfly symbol
Dementia nurse specialist Yvonne Weldon with the dementia butterfly symbol

“By 2050, it’s estimated that more than 1.7 million people in the UK will be diagnosed with the condition,” he said.

Dr Didi is the hospital’s clinical lead for dementia, in charge of implementing the government’s national dementia strategy.

Dementia nurse specialist Yvonne Weldon has been in post five weeks and it’s her responsibility to raise the profile of the condition through education and awareness.

“Living Well With Dementia is about getting to know the patient a little better, their history and what happened before they became ill,” she explained. “They could have behavioural issues in hospital because their routine has been changed, they’re scared and out of their comfort zone.

“So we’re asking family and carers to fill in a leaflet called This is Me.

“Sometimes little things can make a big difference - such as what they like to be called.

“If they’ve been diagnosed, we identify them with a butterfly symbol above their bed to alert all staff to take extra care.

“They might need help with feeding – they could be suffering from agnosia, which is forgetting what every day items are for.

“We’re teaching ward hostesses to put the fork in their hand if necessary, to start them off.

“We’re trying to change mindsets, to get everyone involved, not just nurses.”

Yvonne is passionate about the new project. She said: “I’m very excited to be involved.

“It addresses all the issues that have been highlighted recently about a return to caring for patients and making them more comfortable.”

‘This is me’ is a joint initiative between the Royal College of Nursing and the Alzheimer’s Society.

> The National Dementia Helpline is 0300 2221122.