South Tipperary dementia project launched

Orlaith Potter's picture

South Tipperary has been selected as the site for an innovative pilot project to develop and test new service models aiming to divert significant numbers of people with dementia from institutional care.

Supported by Genio, the South Tipperary dementia project, 5 Steps to Living Well with Dementia, will put into practice new methods of caring for people with dementia in their communities rather than in inpatient care.  If successful, the objective is that these service models will be adopted nationwide thus improving the quality of life of people with dementia while making a substantial saving for the exchequer.

The South Tipperary project 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.  It will be led by Dr Caitriona Crowe, the consultant in old age psychiatry in the local mental health service.

Speaking at the launch in Clonmel today the Founding Director of Genio Ms Madeleine Clarke said that many Irish people with dementia are in group residential care - mainly in nursing homes. “Starting in South Tipperary and the other three places hosting pilot projects, we will see new service models developed and tested.  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 South Tipperary 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 South Tipperary project aspires to transform the life experience of people with dementia and their families in South Tipperary by increasing public awareness, dispelling myths, reducing stigma, encouraging people to come forward earlier for diagnosis and treatment and by providing information and support. It will seek to provide high quality, flexible, person-centered care in the home to help people to stay living at home for as long as is possible and provide compassionate and dignified palliative end of life care. The whole of the 88,411 population of South Tipperary County is to be covered.

“We believe the people of South Tipperary 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 Caitriona Crowe, the consultant psychiatrist leading the project.

There are over 40,000 people with dementia in Ireland, 14,000 of whom are in residential care.  According to Ms 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.  This South Tipperary project 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.”