Dementia care project given funding lift-off

Finding the best way to look after a growing elderly population, especially with dementia needs, is a constant challenge for health services across Europe.  A new innovate EU project called CASCADE, has now successfully received funding to help tackle this growing problem in the United Kingdom, Belgium, the Netherlands and France and is being delivered in the UK by East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, Canterbury Christ Church University, Medway Community Healthcare and the Health and Europe Centre.

The project was approved and funded €9,295,278, of which €5,577,167 is co-funded from the Interreg 2 Seas programme 2014-2020 by the European Regional Development Fund, with the rest being match funded by partners.

In the EU, the number of over 65s is rising from 18.2 percent to 28.7 percent by 2080, creating an explosion in demand for elderly care services, which is not being met. Currently, patients are often 'parked' in expensive hospital beds due to there being no suitable local alternative. In total, dementia services cost the EU €130bn per annum.

Three of the four countries in the CASCADE partnership have higher than average dementia rates. To avoid overwhelming the current health services in place, new approaches are needed for elderly/dementia care across all ages that apply to  different cultural and social settings, which crucially must be financially sustainable.

So far, new developments have focused on removing the people living with dementia to a safe place, rather than providing free continuous care that enables them to stay in their own home for as long as possible. The challenge then is to provide sustainable programmes of care support in local communities centred around people.

Uniquely, this will be tested via existing state owned buildings. The facilities created will provide short-term respite and longer-term care which will fully engage with the local community. They will also be the basis for passing shared learning and cross-border excellence in dementia care for the future.

This approach will be applied widely and play a significant role in addressing the increasing demand for care. The outcome will be a step-change improvement in elderly/dementia care in the 2 Seas area, allowing people living with dementia to stay in their homes for as long as possible. CASCADE will recognise that dementia is long-term and that a person's needs, on day one of diagnosis, will be very different to their needs 20 years later and it will create a model that provides appropriate care at every point.

In the first instance, 50 new beds across two countries for the elderly and people living with dementia, will be created and freely available. Instead of having elderly/dementia care villages, it will look at more community based care houses in residential streets. These will maximise their independence and be responsive to their changing needs.

So far, small scale 'guesthouses' have been trialled in, for example in the Netherlands, which has established a market need, and will be expanded further as part of the project. Guesthouses provide short-term care for the elderly in a hotel-type setting as a step-up to, or step-down from, hospital stays. CASCADE will evaluate this model where currently there is only anecdotal evidence showing high patient satisfaction with 85 to 90 percent occupancy rate. CASCADE will combine and scale up these pockets of excellence, to create new methods of service delivery for the provision of elderly/dementia care and support people to live well in therapeutic communities rather than hospitals.

The Health and Europe Centre is delighted to be part of this social innovation project as it will develop a financially sustainable approach to elderly/dementia care that can be replicated across the 2 Seas area and potentially further across Europe. It will be using existing state owned facilities to provide short term respite and longer term care, which will fully engage with the local community. This approach will also help reduce the strain on hospital beds and increase the quality of care, making it more appropriate to people’s needs. At the same time, it will also create a better living environment and give them more independence. The learning gained from delivering this approach will create a centre of excellence, be rolled out to other 2 Seas countries and Europe, and ultimately save money and improve people's lives.


NOTES FOR EDITORS:

Interreg 2 Seas 2014-2020 is a European Territorial Cooperation Programme covering England, France, the Netherlands and Belgium (Flanders). The Programme is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund and has a total of €241m ERDF to co-finance projects in the 2014 - 2020 period.

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