Leading the dementia fight

A Hemel Hempstead doctor and his team is leading the way in tackling the growing number of patients with dementia attending hospitals across the UK.

Dr Arun Jha, who works at the Logandene Centre, says that offering greater support to carers will have a positive knock-­on effect in awareness, understanding and management of the condition that affects nearly 15,000 people across the county. And he has worked with his colleagues to create the world’s first dementia ‘First Aid’ course, which aims to put more than a band aid on the problem of how carers both look after themselves and loved ones struggling with the condition.

Dr Jha said: “At present, dementia services are 
patient-centred while 
carers are largely left to fend for themselves.

“They do a fantastic job in difficult circumstances and it’s worth remembering their efforts save health and social services millions of pounds a year by helping avoid unnecessary hospital admissions.”

The four-hour course consists of education and various coping strategies, such as managing someone who is being aggressive or constantly repeating 
themselves, mindfulness meditation, and a new 
awareness tool called FACE.

Dr Jha, who is a long-­term practitioner of meditation himself, said: “We’ve had good feedback from several carer groups and are fine-tuning the course.

“It’s still early days but we’re excited about its potential to make a difference.”

The team, who have been shortlisted for a national award, are working on a second four-hour module which involves videoing carers as they interact with 
dementia sufferers in their own homes.

Carers are then invited to watch the video and see how they can potentially improve their communication skills with the aid of doctors and nurses. If you would like to know more about the training go to the Dementia First Aid site www.dementiafirstaid.info