The National Dementia Strategy, which is being implemented under the leadership of the HSE's National Dementia Office, contains 35 priority and additional actions to meet the challenges faced by people living with dementia in Ireland and to provide services to meet growing demand in future years. The Strategy emphasises the need for a "whole community response" to dementia, as the majority of people with dementia live in their own communities and wish to avail of services in their local area.
To support future development of services and supports for people with dementia, the National Dementia Office and the Alzheimer Society of Ireland undertook a joint project in 2016 and 2017 to map dementia-specific community-based services across the country. Information from the project is included in an on-line service finder on the Understand Together website so people can find out what services are available in each county.
Gaps remain in access to services and there is a large variance in what services are provided across the country. The National Dementia Office has met with senior HSE officials in each CHO area to highlight service gaps in each area and to provide guidance and support on dementia service planning and development across the country. In addition a Dementia Needs Analysis Framework was developed to support services.
Considerable efforts have been undertaken to progress the National Dementia Strategy, and this has been recorded in the mid-term review of the Strategy, published last year. The review also highlights work to be carried out by the National Dementia Office to further implement the Strategy. In the medium term, the HSE is working to create compassionate, inclusive communities for people with dementia and their carers, by building a network of community activation champions and partnering with a wide range of businesses and organisations nationally as part of the Dementia Understand Together campaign.
Significant funding has been secured by the Department of Health from the Dormant Accounts Fund since 2016 to develop projects which seek to improve care and supports for people with dementia. Projects receiving funding include the delivery of post-diagnostic supports; a dementia diagnostic service for people with intellectual disability; a national network of memory technology resource rooms; the development of a national dementia registry; the national roll-out of a dementia training programme for HSE home care staff; the development of dementia resource centres; community support projects for people with dementia; funding for a Dementia Community Activation Co-ordinator to support community-based dementia champions across Ireland; and a review of young-onset dementia diagnostic processes and practices to inform future service development needs.
In addition to these community supports, in 2014 the HSE introduced Dementia-Specific Intensive Homecare Packages to test the feasibility of providing a high level of support to people with dementia with complex needs to facilitate them to remain living at home. These were initially co-funded by the HSE and the Atlantic Philanthropies and now fully funded by the HSE, which has committed to continue to provide approximately 120 packages at any one time. In addition to the IHCPs, people with dementia are also able to avail of standard home care services on the basis of need and within the resources available.
The Department of Health and the HSE are committed to further expanding the level of community supports for older people, including people with dementia, subject to the availability of resources, and cognisant of the large number of areas competing for finite resources. The National Dementia Office is also working to ensure that existing community health and social care services are optimised to meet the needs of people with dementia.