Geraldine, from Touchstone’s IAPT team, talks about the role of a Dementia Champion.

My name is Geraldine and I am one of the Dementia Champions with Touchstone. I work in the Touchstone IAPT service where we meet people with common problems with mood and mental health such as anxiety and depression and offer a range of treatments including classes, online treatment and face to face therapies.
The symptoms we work with can include difficulties with every day activities, poor concentration, decision making and memory problems and there can be some cross-over between dementia and common mental health problems. Sometimes we find patients coming to our service have a more urgent problem with memory as are unable to complete use the strategies we teach to help improve mood.
Recently a patient we were working with could not remember what he was asked to do after he left the sessions. He reported to struggle with lots of things such as remembering his home address sometimes and the things he had to do on a day to day basis. Since he was unable to engage with therapy we agreed to work with his GP to seek access to a memory clinic.
Dementia is increasingly common after the age of 60 and as Leeds has an increasing older population[i] it is an important health issue for our city, particularly in our diverse BME communities where risk factors are higher. In IAPT we continue to review the way we work to enable people to access our service and to improve how we work to ensure they have the best possible treatment and in our Touchstone team we are focused on achieving health improvements for BME patients. Being a Dementia Champion allows me to explore and reflect on good practice with colleagues and also to share our challenges and successes.

[i] The 60-74 age group was projected to grow by over 8,000 (+8%) and the 75+ group by almost 6,000 (+10%) between 2015 and 2021.According to the Leeds Joint Strategic Needs Assessment 2015