MORE complex dementia cases have prompted NHS bosses to launch new services in Swindon.

Managers at Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust (AWP) want to keep dementia patients at home for longer.

This month they will launch the first in a programme of programmes to support older adults with mental health issues like dementia – and their carers. It is part of a pilot by AWP, which runs mental health services from Bristol to Swindon.

Sara Ross, team manager for AWP’s Swindon Complex Intervention team, said: “We held a dementia conference at the Swindon Town football ground in October 2016. What came out of that was that there wasn’t a lot of support particularly for older adults with dementia.”

They are launching a series of initiatives, beginning with a weekly carers, café starting next Tuesday. Future services will include drop in advice sessions for those diagnosed with dementia who need help with, for example, their finances.

Called the Adult Resource Centre (ARC), the programme – which will see a different service hosted every day of the week – will be based at Swindon Borough Council’s Whitbourne House care home.

In the future, the ARC could run training programmes for professional carers in supporting people with dementia.

“Part of AWP’s forward thinking is that people should be treated more in the community, rather than having to come into hospital,” said Ms Ross.

“We’re finding that we’re keeping people at home a lot longer. That’s where they should be.”

She said that AWP were now “stepping up” that push to keep people at home, rather than treating them in hospital.

The new ARC project is being piloted by AWP. It complements a scheme being tested at Bristol for a new acute community unit – a day unit where seriously unwell mental health patients can be supported. It is expected that a similar unit will be opened at Sandalwood Court mental health hospital, Stratton, this year.

Ms Ross said that she wanted patients and carers to have their say on what the new ARC services should involve.

People can share their views at AWP’s first carers’ café event next Tuesday.

The carers’ café will be at Whitbourne House care home, Whitbourne Avenue, Park South, on Tuesday, February 13, 1.30pm-3.30pm.

A weekly community group to support mental health service users will begin next Thursday morning, 10am-12.30pm, also at Whitbourne House.

To register your interest, contact AWP’s complex intervention and treatment team on 01793 327800 or email

What are the warning signs of dementia?

An estimated 2,000 people in Swindon are living with dementia. Swindon NHS Clinical Commissioning Group estimate that only 62.5 per cent of all those with the condition have been diagnosed by doctors.

Dementia refers to a range of symptoms linked to declining brain function. Symptoms include low mood, memory loss and struggles with daily activities. Alzheimer’s disease is one type of dementia.

There is no known cure for dementia, which last year overtook heart disease as Britain’s biggest killer.

However, getting the condition diagnosed early was important. Ms Ross of AWP says there were three key signs to look out for:

  • Short-term memory loss: “For example, not being able to remember things that people planned, like a doctors’ appointment.”
  • Poor concentration: “Like not being able to watch a film.”
  • Low mood: “Sometimes people will think that they’re quite depressed, which they are – but it’s linked to the memory loss.”

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