An important painting is to be unveiled by David Hinchliffe MP on Wednesday 25 September 2002 at the Memory Clinic, Fieldhead Hospital in Wakefield. Members of the Dementia Craft Group have produced the silk painting.

The Memory Clinic, part of the South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust, was set up approximately two years ago and the event with Mr Hinchliffe is an opportunity to celebrate the work of the clinic and in particular to emphasise what patients with dementia can do rather than what they cannot do through the unveiling of the painting.

Alzheimer’s disease affects approximately 5% of people over 65 years, that’s 2,355 people in Wakefield.1,2 It is a progressive, degenerative disease that affects people’s memory, personality and ability to think. Over half of people diagnosed with dementia have Alzheimer’s disease,3 making it the most common form of this distressing condition.

The Memory Clinic has gone from strength to strength since it first opened and Mark Oldham, a Community Nurse, has been appointed to help enhance the Alzheimer’s service at the clinic. This means quicker appointment times, a dedicated nurse to assess patients and extra support for carers.

"The appointment of Mark Oldham is an important step forward and builds on the excellent service provided by the Memory Clinic team," says Professor Stephen Curran, Professor of Old Age Psychiatry, "The clinic provides support and treatment for suitable patients with dementia and means we can continue to focus our service on meeting the specific needs of both patients and carers."

GPs can refer patients to the Memory Clinic where an initial screening process takes place. Mark Oldham then carries out further assessments at a time and date to suit the patient. Each patient attending the clinic will be seen to identify the potential presence of dementia and whether they would be likely to benefit from drug treatment, or other support and information. This includes assessing what carer support is available for the patient.

Memory does change as people get older and not all forgetfulness is due to dementia. More pronounced memory loss often means forgetting important family events, such as birthdays, or regularly forgetting a neighbour’s name. It is important that patients are diagnosed as soon as possible after experiencing noticeable early symptoms. GPs can refer patients with more pronounced memory loss to the clinic for assessment.

"The sooner we see patients and get them onto treatment, the sooner the treatment is likely to work," says Mark Oldham. "People in Wakefield should feel in good hands when they come to the clinic as we have a dedicated team here to look after them. Our level of knowledge and experience means that we can provide a good level of support not only to patients but to their carers too."

The event on Wednesday will highlight the progress of the Clinic and celebrate its achievements. Invitations to the event have gone out to Senior Trust management, staff involved with the clinic and representatives from social services, the Alzheimer’s Disease Society, primary care staff and carer representatives.


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