East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership launches a dedicated strategy outlining how it will improve the offer and provision of dementia services for individuals and their carers.

With rates of dementia among our ageing population expected to increase significantly over the next 25 years, East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership has developed a dedicated dementia strategy providing a clear strategic framework to improve the offer and provision of dementia services across East Lothian in line with local need.

This coincides with the launch of Health Improvement Scotland’s guidelines last week (Thursday 16 November 2023) which calls for more awareness, training, and support to become available for people living with dementia and their carers concerning pre-death grief. 

Supporting the East Lothian Integrated Joint Board’s strategic objectives, the five-year dementia strategy 2023-2028, has been developed using a human rights-based approach to ensure that the rights of people with dementia remain at the centre of the provision of services.

The key outcomes in the strategy have been taken from work done by the Life Changes Trust which were developed by people living with dementia and their carers; and are based on what was most important to them. These include:

  • I get the help I need when I need it,
  • I am empowered to do the things that are important to me,
  • I am able to be as independent as possible,
  • I live in a place that suits me and my needs,
  • I feel safe, listened to, valued and respected.

The impact of dementia diagnosis is wide ranging, not only for the person with dementia but also on their families and carers.  Dementia can result in a loss of a sense of identity, security and isolation.  In addition to the cognitive changes, dementia also brings with it functional and sensory changes that affect how people with dementia are able to engage and manage in their own environment. 

The emotional toll for both the person with dementia and their carer is also significant due to the loss of relationships and connections and can result in depression, anxiety and stress.  This is often compounded by the lack of awareness and stigmatisation of the illness within the general community. 

Importantly though, people living with dementia and their carers want to remain as independent as possible for as long as possible. To enjoy daily life, activities and connections as we all do, and for their worth and value as individuals to be recognised and supported at each step of the dementia journey.  The ELHSCP dementia strategy is a commitment to enable this to happen.

To date significant progress has been made in developing community capacity and increasing awareness of dementia through the work being done by Dementia Friendly East Lothian, Alzheimer Scotland and other partners.  There have also been excellent examples of partnership working between these community, third sector and formal HSCP services, for example the Musselburgh Meeting Centre.

The strategy sets out the needs and intended actions to help support people living with dementia and their families covering information provision, diagnosis and post diagnostic support, dedicated support for carers, expanding community connections, maintaining independence, transport, housing, staying safe and understood as well as care services and end-of-life care.

Social and community supports are a vital component in helping to maintain people with dementia at home for longer and to enable them to be active, healthy and engaged.  The integration of Health and Social Care services, and development of a dedicated dementia strategy brings opportunities for innovation, to link formal supports systems around wider community networks to offer a holistic approach to supporting people with dementia and their carers, and to help change perceptions of their rights and abilities.  

While developing this strategy, ELHSCP collated an extensive technical report, combining a wide range of national and local data to develop a picture of current and projected trends of dementia within East Lothian. 

In 2022, East Lothian had an estimated 2104 people with dementia, which is projected to rise to 3531 by 2040 (a 68% increase).  Of those diagnosed in 2022, 49% were aged between 75-84, with 58% living in the West of the county, and 42% in the East.  Statistics also indicated that, in line with national trends, there is a higher prevalence of dementia in women, than in men.

The data, evidence and engagement feedback contained within the technical report enables ELHSCP to provide targeted support where there is greatest need, and the areas that people living with Dementia in East Lothian want to be improved. 

ELHSCP Chief Officer, Fiona Wilson comments, “The Partnership is committed to improving the lives of East Lothian’s residents however we cannot do this in isolation. The dementia strategy is very much a working document, an opportunity, as well as a promise to work with people with lived experience, the wider community, health and wellbeing groups, third sector charities and local businesses to develop dementia friendly communities.  Our aim is to change the narrative, to focus on improving awareness, to learn what people need, and work collaboratively to ensure we, as a county, can support people to live well with dementia.”

Download the East Lothian Dementia Strategy (PDF) 

Published: Tuesday, 21st November 2023