Birmingham and Solihull release dementia strategy

Birmingham and Solihull ICS has recently launched their dementia strategy for 2023-2028, which aims to “enable all people with dementia and those who care for them, to have the best possible health and social care support throughout their dementia journey.”

The strategy highlights four key priorities through which they will make this vision a reality. Focus is placed upon:

  • Information which focuses on prevention, early intervention and support
  • Access to a timely diagnosis with ongoing support from the offset
  • Supporting people with dementia, carers, loved ones and communities to prevent crisis
  • Improving the quality of personalised care and support planning for dementia patients, including end of life services

Developing the strategy

The strategy was co-produced through collaboration and engagement with a variety of parties, including stakeholders, carers and people living with dementia in order to identify priority areas.

The strategy touches upon health inequalities across Birmingham and Solihull, acknowledging that they can impact access to dementia and information services for certain groups such as homeless communities, LGBTQIA+, asylum seekers and migrants, ethnic minorities, learning disability communities and prison communities. It notes that moving forward, it is important that the dementia strategy will consider the differences across the region’s communities and works to ensure equitable access for all.

To develop the strategy, ICS held a series of focus groups, events and surveys for people affected by dementia which explored topics such as diagnosis, ongoing support, access to services, respite for carers and end of life care. Following this, a full engagement on the draft strategy took place between June and July 2022. The results helped to shape the final strategy, with main themes of the feedback revolving around health inequalities, outcomes, stakeholders, strategy design, cohorts and the ‘Well Pathway’.

The Well Pathway

The NHS England Well Pathway refers to the route taken for a patient and carer’s dementia journey. Birmingham and Solihull’s Dementia Strategy aims to incorporate “an innovative, personalised and adaptable approach to the the dementia journey which will meet the needs of all communities.”

The Well Pathway focuses on preventing well, diagnosing well, treating well, supporting well, living well and dying well.

The action plan for each stage of the well pathway is expected to carry the strategy to April 2025, at which point the ICS will review their progress and create a further action plan for 2025-2028. The document states that “this will ensure we are flexible in our approach and can deliver best practice care, based on the needs of the people.”

Preventing well

The first step involves minimising the risk of people developing dementia, through raising awareness of preventative approaches. The document states that this “encourages more discussion which reduces stigma.”

Increasing the information available to the people of Birmingham and Solihull on healthy living, providing education and training to health and social practitioners and the wider community will all contribute towards reducing the risk of dementia.

Diagnosing well

The second step centres around the timely and accurate diagnosis of a patient, and reviewing their health within the first year.

The ICS states that they will make pre and post-diagnostic support information readily available to all people in Birmingham and Solihull, including health and social care professionals. They will work to reduce wait times for memory assessment appointments and in the long-term, improve the dementia diagnosis rate for the region.

Treating well

In order to ensure access to available treatments, the strategy highlights a commitment to offering “early and ongoing opportunities for people living with dementia and their loved ones” – ensuring they are fully involved in the personalised care and support planning.

The ICS will increase the number of annual health checks for people diagnosed with dementia in order to better manage health outcomes and provide both patients and family with the support they need.

Awareness and availability of medication and non-medication treatments options will also be increased.

Supporting well

This step focuses on access to safe, high quality health and social care for dementia sufferers and their carers.

In order to do this, the ICS will provide clear dementia information on “developed web pages which are clear and easy to navigate for physical, psychological, financial and emotional support needs.” This will ensure people of all backgrounds, ages and personal needs are properly catered for.

They will work towards a strengths-based approach, supporting people with dementia to be as independent as possible for as long as they can be – whilst supporting carers to the fullest ability to reduce stress and mitigate the risks of carer breakdowns.

Living well

One of the most important steps is ‘living well’ and helping people with dementia to live normally in a safe and accepting communities.

The strategy highlights the importance of encouraging connection with local community support networks for those diagnosed with dementia, as well as their carers, to improve health outcomes and quality of care they receive.

The ICB will work to provide appropriate information to people suffering with dementia and also their carers relating to services, equipment and aids which can support them to live well.

Dying well

The final step in the pathway involves helping people living with dementia to die with dignity and in a place of their choosing. The document states: “it is so important that while a person with a diagnosis is able to express their wishes with their family they do so. This way the family can uphold their wishes.”

The ICS will increase awareness that dementia can reduce life expectancy and emphasise that it is a life-limiting condition. They will also offer early and ongoing opportunities for people living with dementia, as well as their loved ones, to be involved in making personalised end of life care decisions.

Ultimately, they will work to promote a high standard of care at the end of life. The strategy acknowledges that this is extremely important for people diagnosed with dementia living in care homes.

Action plan

Looking ahead, the Birmingham and Solihull Dementia Action Plan (2023-2025) will inform the development of the 2025-2028 action plan, which is expected to be developed in 2024.

It is hoped this will cultivate significant insight into the long-term priorities and changing needs of the population; helping the ICS to incorporate the lesson learned into an innovative and adaptable approach towards dementia care provision over the next five years.

For more information about the Dementia Strategy, please click here.