SOME 160 people will be recruited to staff new memory services which are due to be established across Ireland to serve people living with dementia.
Ten new Memory Assessment and Support Services are being established in Mayo, Sligo, Waterford, Wexford, Cavan/Monaghan, Donegal, Kerry, Limerick, Mullingar and Galway, it was announced by the Department of Health today, which is World Alzheimer's Day.
In each location, multidisciplinary teams consisting of medical, nursing and therapy staff will undertake up to 300 new assessments per year and serve a population of up to 150,000 people, the Department confirmed.
Under the scheme new staff will also be recruited to the existing Regional Specialist Memory Clinics in St. James’s Hospital and Tallaght University Hospital in Dublin, which deal with more complex cases of dementia.
New Regional Specialist Memory Clinics will also open in Cork and Galway.
Each of these sites will perform 500 new assessments per year and serve a population of one million people in each location.
There are at least 64,000 people living with dementia in Ireland today, according to Department of Health statistics.
Announcing the memory services initiative, Ireland’s Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler said: “Establishing these new memory services will make sure that there is timely access to both diagnosis and post-diagnostic supports, and a reduction in waiting times.
“Timely diagnosis is key in the treatment of dementia, and advances in disease-modifying therapies and brain health interventions will be key tools to slow progression of the illness and maintain a person’s quality of life.”
Minister Butler added: "There are at least 64,000 people living with dementia in Ireland today.
“It is crucial that the right supports are in place at the right time both before and after diagnosis.
“World Alzheimer’s Day, and World Alzheimer’s Month of September, provide us with an opportunity to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias, and to focus on how we can best support people living with dementia and their families in our communities.”
Ms Butler, the Fianna Fail TD for Waterford, was appointed Minister for Mental Health and Older People in 2020, in which role she has consistently prioritised financing for dementia services.
“Since becoming Minister for Mental Health and Older People, I have prioritised unprecedented investment in dementia over the past three budgets,” she explained.
“This year the government has invested over €12 million in dementia services and supports to ensure that those living with dementia have access to the right services and supports to help them to live well in their communities.
“I would like to thank the Alzheimer Society of Ireland who work closely with the HSE (Health Service Executive) on many important dementia initiatives.
“This relationship has proven to be very productive as evidenced by the increase in necessary dementia-specific supports.”
Some 160 staff will be needed to support the development of the new dementia services.
They will be recruited “in line with the staffing recommendations set out in the Model of Care for Dementia published earlier this year”, the Department has confirmed.