Alzheimer Scotland in £300,000 funding boost

Alzheimer Scotland is to receive £300,000 to help fund specialist nurses, the Scottish government has announced.

The charity will use the money to improve the standard of acute hospital care received by people with dementia.

Last year Alzheimer Scotland launched a £1.5m appeal to place a specialist dementia nurse in every health board.

The funding announcement was made during a parliamentary debate on progress in dementia services.

The move follows an appeal spearheaded by the Duchess of Hamilton, who called for improved dementia training to assist general hospital nurses and doctors following the death of her husband, the 15th Duke of Hamilton, last year.

The Duke was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2006, at the age of 66.

About 72,500 people in Scotland are estimated to have dementia and the number is expected to double over the next 25 years. It is estimated that the illness costs health services £1.7bn a year.

Dedicated nurses

Currently, only four of Scotland's 14 health boards have a dedicated dementia training nurse in post.

Three are being funded at a cost of £50,000 a year each by Alzheimer Scotland - one in the Borders, one in Kilmarnock, and a third in Edinburgh. The fourth is now being paid for by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde in Paisley, after three years of funding support by the charity.

In announcing the new funding, Public Health Minister Shona Robison told fellow MSPs: "We've already seen the impact that dementia nurses make, working to support other staff on the quality of care and the safety of people with dementia in care homes, at home, or when they're in hospital."

Alzheimer Scotland chief executive Henry Simmons described the Scottish government contribution as "very positive and extremely welcome".

He said: "Frontline NHS staff need our support to help them to better understand the needs of people with dementia, and their families, and to care for them more effectively.

"We must build on this and ensure that people with dementia and their families receive consistent and high quality support from the point of diagnosis to the very difficult end of life stages of the illness."

He added: "As the number of people with dementia is set to double within a generation, we must ensure that all staff in the health and social care system are supported with appropriate training and education, in order to treat everyone affected by this illness with the dignity, respect and human compassion to which they are entitled."

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