Funding bold solutions for dementia and older people’s complex care

Dementia has been the leading cause of death in Britain for the last 10 years and there are currently 900,000 people living with the disease in the UK. 

Despite a growing demand for services, the dementia care pathway – and the treatment pathway for other complex conditions – remains bumpy. Many people diagnosed with dementia are all-too-often told to manage as best they can and to see a doctor again only when it gets worse. Many of us have experienced the impact first-hand and know that it’s incredibly difficult to plan ahead, and of the stresses this puts on both families and health and social care services.  

But what could dementia care look like if it was person-centred? What evidence do statutory bodies need to implement new ways of working? And how do we fund better care in an already stretched system?

We think social investors have a real contribution to make in helping to address these complex needs

Paul Reynolds, Associate Director of Commercial and Partnerships, Alzheimer’s Society

Introducing our Dementia and Older People’s Complex Care programme

In a unique partnership, The Dunhill Medical Trust, Alzheimer’s Society and Social Finance have come together to establish the Dementia and Older People’s Complex Care programme. This programme aims to break down the knotty issues associated with the delivery of complex care into its component parts, enabling us to improve people’s experience of the care system and provide help at the most common “crisis points”.  

We’ve also teamed up to explore new funding models for this kind of service delivery. We are offering support for teams and services on the ground who have identified new operational delivery options and are committed to working in an outcomes-based way. People at the frontline of care know how to improve things, but don’t always have the time, money and support to robustly test their ideas. Statutory bodies who pay for health and social care are often unable to commit upfront to different ideas without evidence that they will reach certain outcomes, nor do they always have the budget available to fund the transition from the old to new ways of doing things. We’re stepping up to fill this gap, providing initial funding and support so bold ideas can be tested in situ, and to ultimately provide confidence for the health and care system to commission new ways of working within complex dementia care.

This setup has been shown to work through a proof-of-concept scheme run in Hounslow that established an Enhanced Dementia Care Service. Originally funded through The Care and Wellbeing Fund, managed by Social Finance, the Hounslow-based service generated the needed evidence to secure further funding from Hounslow Borough Based Partnership

We’re looking to work with more change makers and people who want better outcomes for those living with dementia and other complex conditions.

Katy Saunders, Director, Social Finance  

Where can we make the biggest difference in the dementia care pathway? 

Spread across the country, we’ve selected five partners who are working on ideas that align with our focus on preventing common crisis moments in the dementia care pathway. 

One of our partners is Leicestershire City Council, who are testing how to deploy in-home care technology early on after a diagnosis rather than waiting for symptoms to worsen. They’re researching what this might look like in practice and whether it can extend independent living and reduce ongoing care costs.

A second partner is Shared Lives Plus, who are testing a different model for offering respite care. They are building a community network in two different areas, Newham and Wiltshire, where people living with dementia can visit someone else’s home for a break. By taking respite out of a clinical setting and into a more familiar, home-like setting, Shared Lives Plus are seeking to understand whether this could improve health outcomes and reduce the stress of respite for those living with dementia as well as their carers. 

Leicestershire City Council and Shared Lives Plus are already getting underway with their research and we expect the other three partners to start by early 2024. Alongside helping our partners get up and running, we’re also co-producing the programme to ensure the voices and opinions of people living with dementia, and those affected by dementia, are at the heart of our work. 

Getting evidence into the hands of those who need it

Our five partners will be testing and researching for 6-12 months. Following that, we’ll ensure that the evidence they have gathered is shared openly and with the relevant statutory bodies so it can be quickly put to use in practical ways to commission care and services.

This programme comes at a critical time for the health and care landscape. The next year sees England get to grips with its new Integrated Care Systems (ICS) with each ICS already working towards what they’ll offer in their localities in 2025. It’s essential that organisations from beyond the NHS and local authorities are involved as equal partners, providing evidence and sharing research around what works, feeding in the wider perspectives and expertise that can only be found in the charitable and voluntary sector.  

Our partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society and Social Finance is really special because we are all laser focused on achieving the same outcomes.

Susan Kay, Chief Executive, Dunhill Medical Trust

Join our community to learn what works

We’re looking to work with more change makers and people who want better outcomes for those living with dementia and other complex conditions. To do this, we have created a network that is open to anyone interested in learning from the programme’s five partners or wants to be part of a wider conversation about where and how to drive greater innovation in services for older people with complex needs. To join the community or find out more, contact Social Finance.

If you know someone living with dementia or affected by dementia you can find help and support on the Alzheimer’s Society’s website and through their helpline.