The Western Trust has marked its commitment to dementia care by hosting its first ever conference on the condition in the City Hotel, Derry today.

The conference brought together renowned national and international experts in dementia care with over 120 local healthcare professionals, charity representatives and carers. The focus of the day was on compassionate care in the community and improving care in hospital and community settings, as well as improving the quality of life for those living with the condition. It was hosted to give information, advice and confidence to those working with people with dementia on daily basis.

Alan Corry Finn, Executive Director of Nursing and Primary Care and Older People’s Services at the Western Trust, said: “We live within an aging population, people are living longer and unfortunately dementia is becoming more and more prevalent. There is approximately 2,800 people living within the Western Trust area with dementia. This poses a challenge, not least to the person living with the condition, but also to their family, carers, general support network and the healthcare service. At any one time, people with a diagnosis of dementia make up over one quarter of our hospital population. People who have dementia also experience many more complications and may stay longer in hospital.”

Alan added: “We were delighted to have Eloy Van Hal, Senior Consultant and co-founder of the De Hogeweyk, Demenita Village in the Netherlands. Eloy and the other speakers are experts in dementia care. Their collective knowledge and experience challenges us all to improve the quality of care for people with dementia and their carers.

“Through thought provoking presentations, networking and peer discussions, participants were given the opportunity to learn more about innovative person-centered care, and best practice models of dementia care. This invaluable information can now be considered in the future design of services and dementia care pathways.”

One of the guest speakers, Eloy Van Hal from the Netherlands, Co-founder of De Hogeweyk in the Netherlands was a key note speaker at the conference. Known as the dementia village across the world Eloy presented this innovative care concept for people living with severe dementia.

Other renowned speakers included, Dr Suzanne Timmons, Consultant Geriatrician/Senior Lecturer in University College, Cork who presented on research and quality improvement in the area of dementia and delirium care in the general hospital. Julia Jones co-founder of the national ‘John’s Campaign’ presented on the right of people with dementia to be accompanied by their carers if they are admitted to hospital. Dr Bernadette McGuinness, Consultant Geriatrician spoke on the management of delirium.

In the afternoon Rosemary Wilson, Legal Health and Social Care Education Consultant presented on the legal aspects of dementia care including capacity and consent issues.

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