Health and social care organisations across Darlington are
working together to dramatically improve care for people with
The Darlington Dementia Collaborative is made up of doctors,
nurses, social workers and other health professionals from Tees,
Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, County Durham and
Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, Darlington Borough Council and NHS
County Durham and Darlington.
Together they are transforming dementia services across the
town. They have cut waiting times, reduced hospital stays, improved
access to services and increased the amount of time doctors and
nurses are able to spend with patients.
Over the last 18 months health and social care professionals
have been using well established quality improvement techniques to
bring about these changes.
They have worked with patients, carers and colleagues to
identify areas where change was needed and held a number of
workshops where ideas for improvement where developed and
Some of the improvements have included the introduction of daily
ward reviews at Darlington Memorial Hospital to remove unnecessary
delays for patients and establishing a full-time psychiatric
liaison nurse on the ward to help identify patients who need
All staff on the ward have also received training in assessing
patients for dementia and delirium and report that they are better
equipped to manage patients who are confused.
As a result of the changes the average length of stay on the
ward has reduced from 16 to 10 days and patients are seeing a
specialist liaison nurse within a day (this could have previously
taken up to five days).
Patients who need longer term support are also being referred
sooner. Those who need continuing care can expect a response within
two days, compared to 27 days previously, and those who need social
care packages can expect a response within 15 days, compared to 54
They have also introduced a single point of access for patients
who need additional support to enable them to stay at home which
has reduced response times from 11 days to 7 days.
Martin Barkley, chief executive of Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys
NHS Foundation Trust, said: "This has been a great opportunity for
staff from health, social care and the independent sector to work
together, using our quality improvement system, for the benefit of
people with dementia.
"This system empowers staff to make changes. It gives them the
tools to help identify and remove waste so that they can focus on
what adds value - improving the lives of our patients."
Stephen Eames, chief executive of County Durham and Darlington
NHS Foundation Trust, said: "By taking this collaborative approach
we have seen some really creative initiatives take place to address
the issues and find solutions, which reflect the national
"Engagement from staff and the feedback we have received has
been incredibly positive and the outcomes will serve to improve the
care and support for those people living with dementia in
Darlington, as well as for their carers and families."
Ada Burns, chief executive of Darlington Borough Council,
said: "This programme is bringing about benefits because
staff who really understand the service are in the lead and because
we are working together across organisation boundaries to put
people's needs first.
"We've achieved a great deal but we are not complacent and will
continue to work hard to improve services."
Pat Keane, deputy chief executive with NHS County Durham and
Darlington said: "We are pleased to be part of this important
project to help improve dementia services in Darlington.
"The work that has been carried out in the last 18 months has
been made possible due to the vital contribution of patients and
their carers and the dedication of health and social care
professionals from partner organisations."
Published: 19 July 2011
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