Dementia is a cruel illness - it is cruel for the sufferer who must live through their final months and years slowly losing themselves, their memories and lives slipping away.
And it is cruel for their loved ones - watching that person slowly vanish, leaving just glimmers of that person who they have loved and cherished, becoming a mere shell of who they had been.
Dementia affects one in six people above the age of 80 so sadly this means it may already have, or will happen, to someone close to you.
There is no cure as it is a degenerative disorder but thanks to a new scheme at King’s Mill Hospital life will be made more bearable for families members trying to keep their lives together.
The hospital, on Mansfield Road, now employs a mental health care team on ward 52 - which is specifically for the elderly. This team is trained in assessing and helping treat patients with dementia.
The pioneering scheme, which is one of the first in the country sees mental health care nurses - trained specifically for looking after patients with dementia - working alongside medical nurses.
Caring son Phil Robinson is one person whose life this has improved dramatically.
He has been in and out of hospital for the past few years with his mum Joan (78), who has dementia, and the extra care has been a lifeline.
She took a fall twelves weeks ago and has been in hospital ever since.
Mr Robinson (56) of Phoenix Street, Sutton, said: “It has been really difficult. It has been hell, it really has.
“I just had no idea where to go or who to talk but. But this makes the world of difference. It’s also just being able to talk to someone who understands.”
He said it helps get his mum into a routine which was really important.
He added: “It just helps me deal with things much better.”
She was diagnosed with dementia two years ago but he had noticed the signs for around four years.
He had been in hospital with his mum for a similar fall around a year ago - before the mental health nurses had been implemented on the ward and he can see a difference it has made.
He added: “It’s incredible, I can not put into words what a help this has been. The level of care and understanding is just outstanding. I am so grateful.”
Previously if a patient had dementia a member of the team would be called to do an assessment and then follow it up at a later date. But the new system means a nurse with extensive knowledge of dementia and similar disorders will always be on hand.
There are currently two nurses who share the responsibilty but soon a third will be on board to ensure cover at all times.
The Sherwood Forest Hospital NHS Foundation Trust employs the team from Nottinghamshire Health Care Trust.
The team also help with life after hospital.
There was added pressure on the family as to whether his mum would return home, and finally decided she needed full time care.
Mental health care leader on ward 52 Chris Majid helped with the arrangements.
Mr Robinson said: “Chris has been like super man, a real hero. He has helped get things sorted out so she can go into residential care. We would have been lost without him.”
Rebecca Saunders, clinical team leader for the rapid response liaison psychiatry, said: “This is innovative and anything like is very few and far between in the country. “It’s a subtle change which creates a huge change and improvement for patients. We are striving to make it an area of excellent care for older adults.”
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Have you or someone in your family had experience with dementia? How is local treatment of the condition?
To send us your comments CLICK HERE