Cynon AM and Health Minister pay a visit to Cwm Taf UHB Dementia Intervention Team

Vikki Howells, Assembly Member for Cynon Valley, and Vaughan Gething, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Wellbeing and Sport visited Ysbyty Cwm Cynon to meet the Dementia Intervention Team, who are based at the hospital.

The team, whose work took Cwm Taf University Health Board to the finals of the NHS Awards last year, was set up in 2014 following a review of Mental Health Services within the health board. The aim of the team is to improve the quality of life for people with dementia living in care homes or at home and is the first of its kind in Wales. An audit of patients on the inpatient mental health wards revealed that the main reason for admission often stemmed from challenging behaviour which care home staff and families found unable to deal with, and that these patients were likely to remain in hospital.

The Dementia Intervention Team offers prompt assessment and treatment for people with dementia who are displaying challenging behaviour.  It seeks to explore possible reasons why a person is distressed or behaving in a way that those caring for them find challenging. This enables the service to work closely with staff and families to increase their knowledge and confidence and to develop a person-centred care plan. The plans provide an alternative to medication and includes a variety of interventions, such as reminiscence, music therapy, life story interaction and doll therapy.

Vikki Howells AM said:

“I was delighted to meet the team and learn how this innovative service is effective in reducing the intensity and frequency of challenging behaviour and distress in people with dementia by offering an alternative to medication in the form of psychosocial interventions. Since the implementation of the service there has been a significant decrease in mental health admissions and a reduced rate of challenging behaviour, along with rates of improved well-being and a reduction in carer distress. Since January of this year there have been 72 referrals to the team, helping to keep those referred out of hospital.”

Vaughan Gething AM said: 

“My visit to Ysbyty Cwm Cynon to meet the Dementia Intervention Team gave me an    invaluable insight into the positive effects of person-centred care for people with dementia and the staff and families who care for them. The service highlights the importance of how understanding the person, their routines, old habits, preferences and life events is essential to their future well-being.  By working closely with staff and families the team have helped them become more confident in dealing with challenging behaviour and the reduction in hospital admission is welcome news.”

The Dementia Intervention Team covers all care homes in Cwm Taf and is expanding by taking on more staff.