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Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Intensive Support Teams shortlisted for top award

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has been shortlisted for a prestigious award for the care it provides for older people with dementia through its specialist support teams.

The Trust's Dementia Intensive Support Team (DIST) service, has been shortlisted for a Positive Practice in Mental Award 2014.

The awards are run by Breakthrough - a nationally recognised mental health organisation which has been offering service user perspectives for research and training purposes for over twenty years.  

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust Deputy Director of Nursing, Michele Allott, said:  "The DIST teams have worked hard to offer a flexible service for people with dementia across the two counties and we are delighted to be shortlisted for the award.

"The specialist teams provide individually based assessments, assistance and care plans, with the common focus of reducing mental health ward and general hospital admissions by helping people to reach their full potential at home.

"DIST has enabled us to see far more people with than we could before and feedback from service users, carers and families has been overwhelmingly positive."

DIST was initially launched as part of a redesign of the Trust's Care Pathways for people with dementia and complexity in later life, in 2012 and 2013. There are three DIST teams in Norfolk and two in Suffolk.

The support teams tailor the service dependent upon local needs. Teams in Suffolk include mental health practitioners, assistant practitioners and occupational therapists, while those in Norfolk also include a psychiatrist.

DIST Norfolk serves people with dementia and also those who have a mental health condition and complexity in later life.  DIST Suffolk focusses on dementia only. The Suffolk Service runs from 9-5pm, Monday to Friday, while DIST Norfolk runs a 7 day service, 12 hours per day.

Service users are referred to the teams if they have a diagnosis, or suspected diagnosis of dementia and are becoming increasingly isolated, stop accepting home care visits or stop managing their medication.

Specialist advice is also provided when planning for discharge from hospital or intermediate care, such as 'alternative to admission beds', in care homes.

Norfolk West Locality Service Manager, Pauline Davies, said: "Individual circumstances determine the level of care each service user needs and how that care can best be provided.

"The teams help service users live in their home or access appropriate intermediate or acute care, if that is not possible. We work closely with the individuals, carers, families, and social workers to help support the best quality of life."

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust is one of three Trusts to be shortlisted in the category of 'Older People's Mental Health'. Last year, the East Suffolk DIST team was shortlisted in the Health Enterprise East Innovation Competition.

The Positive Practice in Mental Health Awards 2014 recognises positive work in 15 categories, also including Innovation in Mental Health and Primary Care, Art, Mental Health and Wellbeing and Integrating Physical Mental Healthcare.

The Award ceremony will be held on 23 October at the Platinum Suite, Sheffield United FC, Bramall Lane, Sheffield. Minister for Health Norman Lamb is also scheduled to deliver a keynote speech at the ceremony.

Team Leader, DIST East Suffolk, Sandra Bailey, said: "Everyone is absolutely delighted. Let's hope we win!"

To find out more about Breakthrough visit the website:‚Äč