A cash pot of £160,000 has been made available to recruit a much-needed dementia specialist in Orkney – which is facing a crisis with the number of sufferers is expected to double from around 400 in the next decade.
A support worker is being sought to focus on people who have just been recently diagnosed with dementia on the islands.
The development comes as the community deals with the discovery of a body following the search of a missing pensioner with dementia.
The percentage of people aged over 65 is higher in Orkney than in Scotland as a whole, and is also growing more quickly.
These figures indicate that the need for dementia support will continue to increase.
Orkney Islands Council is seeking the provision of a dementia post diagnostic support worker as a core member of the community mental health team.
Lynda Bradford, interim head of health and community care, said: “Having a dementia diagnosis is life changing. There is help and support available to help families and carers – but it can seem overwhelming at what is a very difficult time.
“And of course people receive a diagnosis at different stages of the dementia journey. So support has to be of the right kind, at the right time.
“This contract is for a post-diagnostic support service for people newly diagnosed at an early stage of dementia, where there is opportunity to develop some self-management skills to continue to live well with dementia.
“Importantly, a key aim of the contract is to ensure everyone in our community newly diagnosed at an early stage of dementia has an individual key worker from the onset of diagnosis, up to one calendar year and beyond, who they can turn to for information, advice and support.
“Key workers can help families work towards future planning that needs to be in place, such as seeking consent to share information with other agencies that may provide current or future support.
“The overarching aim of the service is to ensure that people diagnosed with early stage dementia have support in place and know where to go after diagnosis, so they can actively plan for their future, and continue to enjoy life as independently as possible.”
According to the latest figures from Alzheimers Scotland, Orkney has 449 people with dementia, out of a population of around 21,000.
The Scottish Government’s national dementia strategy says: “As a consequence of improved healthcare and better standards of living more people are living for longer.”
It states that the number of people with dementia is expected to double by 2031.