An initiative designed to divert substantial numbers of people with dementia from institutional care was launched in Kinsale today by Labour Party Deputy Mr Ciaran Lynch, on behalf of Minister of State Kathleen Lynch.
The initiative will develop and test new service models for people with dementia. The intention is that models of community services which prove their value will ultimately inform national policy, changing the way we think about and respond to dementia throughout the country.
The Kinsale Community Response to Dementia (K-CORD) is one of four pilot projects in four different geographical areas that will work with Genio’s support to develop and evaluate community based services to people with dementia over the next three and a half years.
The projects aim to ensure that people with dementia can live for longer within their own communities and have an improved quality of life. This approach is also expected to provide significant savings for the Exchequer.
Speaking at the launch in Kinsale today Mr Lynch, on behalf of the Minister responsible for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People said that many Irish people with dementia are in group residential care - mainly in nursing homes. “Starting in Kinsale, we will develop and test new service models and the results of this will influence public policy and investment in this area. These projects should build the leadership required in the field and drive permanent change to the benefit of people with dementia, their families and society in general.”
Genio is driving the process in collaboration with the Department of Health and with the support of the Atlantic Philanthropies and the HSE who are jointly funding the €4.3m cost of the four projects. Genio is working to refocus services to put the person who needs them at the centre of their design and delivery. So far Genio has supported innovative projects that positively impact on the lives of people with disabilities and mental health issues in Ireland. Now Genio is extending its focus to include people with dementia.
The K-CORD project is one of four local initiatives that successfully applied to Genio for grants to develop and test new services for those with dementia. Each project will use creative and different ways to provide tailored supports to people with dementia to enable them to continue living in the community. A national learning network will be also established to ensure lessons from each project are shared, and there will be a rigorous evaluation process to ensure the initiative can have a real influence on policy into the future.
The Kinsale project, led by Dr Tony Foley of The Medical Centre, will include a community drop-in centre for people with dementia, innovative activities for people to participate in, training of professionals and volunteers and support to carers. It has set ambitious targets for 2015 including a reduction in admission to group residential care, some discharges of people due to enhanced community support and greater community awareness and understanding of dementia.
“We believe the people of Kinsale will demonstrate that communities in collaboration with professionals can and will provide the support needed by people with dementia to keep them active and involved in their community”, according to Dr Tony Foley of K-CORD.
There are over 40,000 people with dementia in Ireland, 14,000 of whom are in residential care. According to the Founding Director of Genio, Ms Madeleine Clarke, “We are delighted to have been able to facilitate this joint effort between philanthropy and government to bring about lasting change in this area. K-Cord and other innovative projects around the country will demonstrate how people with dementia can retain more independence and control over their own lives. The learning arising from these innovative projects will hopefully lead to a transformation in the way we think about, and respond to, people with dementia in Ireland.”
Mr Lynch speaking on behalf of Minister Lynch stated, “Through the dementia projects in Kinsale and elsewhere and through its work in the area of mental health and disability Genio is playing an important role in encouraging the re-configuration of resources towards ensuring people can live as included and contributing citizens within in their communities. We need to change our thinking away from seeing institutionalisation and a one-size-fits-all approach as the standard treatment model and Genio’s work is helping us to do that.”