HEALTH bosses are increasing its support to care homes across Hambleton and Richmondshire to improve the quality of care for older people with dementia.

A specialist mental health team has been set up by Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust to enable patients with dementia to stay in their residential or nursing homes rather than be admitted into hospital.

As well as assessing and treating patients the new team will also help staff at the homes gain a better understanding of dementia and develop the skills they need to care for people with challenging behaviour.

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There are currently 17 nursing and residential homes in Hambleton and Richmondshire and a high proportion of the residents may have, or develop dementia.

The new move is in line with the National Dementia Strategy which cites research showing that sufferers thrive best when they can be treated in their home environment.

Helen Mackley, manager for mental health services for older people in Hambleton and Richmondshire, said: “Moving someone with dementia from their nursing or residential home into hospital can be extremely stressful and confusing and can have a detrimental impact on their longer term wellbeing.

“By providing specialist support and advice we can help many more patients remain at home and have a better quality of life.”

The team, which includes three mental health nurses and a clinical psychologist, will work alongside the trust’s community mental health services.