Life changing Alzheimer’s drugs to be available on the NHS?

THOUSANDS of Uttlesford people suffering with Alzheimer’s disease could soon be given life-changing drugs on the NHS.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has ruled that the medications, which cost just �2.80 per person per day, should be available on prescription.

If the draft decision is upheld, three drugs – Aricept, Exelon and Reminyl – would be available on the NHS for people in the early and moderate stages of Alzheimer’s disease. These treatments have up to now been restricted to people in the moderate stages.

A fourth drug, called Ebixa, would also be made available to people in the moderate to late stages.

Support services manager for the Alzheimer’s Society in West Essex, Marion Howell, welcomed the news. She said: “More than 1300 people in Uttlesford are living with dementia, of which Alzheimers is the most common type.

“For many of those people and their carers, this really is a momentous ruling. While these drugs don’t work for everyone, they can help many people have a better quality of life at all stages of the disease.

“For many people it will mean they will have more time where they are able to do things that are taken for granted by most; like making decisions for themselves, recognising their loved ones, or continuing to care for themselves.

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“Small changes like these can mean people remain independent for longer and carers are placed under less pressure.”

NICE is inviting people to comment on the draft decision by October 28 at with a second meeting of the Appraisal Committee taking place on November 25.

• Since April the Alzheimer’s Society in West Essex has introduced two new services to compliment their level of support:

1) A memory clinic support group

a memory clinic support group which provides help for people from the day of diagnosis; and a community-based dementia group which provides home visits to people with Alzheimer’s.

The society also provides specialist support for people under 65 who are diagnosed with dementia.

If anyone has concerns over their memory they can drop into a number of sessions in Uttlesford:

• The Ugley Chequers, Ugley – first and third Wednesday of every month

• Memory Club, Wendens Ambo village hall – first Tuesday of every month, 2-4pm

• Lunch Group, Flitch of Bacon pub, Little Dunmow – first and third Thursday of every month, noon-2.15pm

• Memory Club, Dunmow Day Centre – second and fourth Wednesday of every month

Since the 1st April 2010, the Alzheimer’s Society in West Essex has extended its current services by launched 2 new services:

On 1st June 2010, we launched our new Memory Clinic Support Service which provides support to people from the day of diagnosis. This service replicated the support which has been available for over 20 years in cancer care. We are now confident that everyone who has been diagnosed will have the opportunity to adjust to their diagnosis with the help they deserve. They will have increased information and support, which may help them to enjoy a quality of life as close as possible to their normal lifestyle. This service offers intense intervention for around 3 to 4 months, and when the family is ready, they are referred to our community based Dementia Support Service.

Community based Dementia Support Service

The Alzheimer’s Society is the only organisation to offer this unique and specialist service In Uttlesford. It is based at our office in Great Dunmow and provides a home visiting service across the Uttlesford area. The service builds upon the early intervention service, mentioned above, and can work with the family for around 10 years or more. As the condition progresses people are able to access accurate and timely information and referral to other services. The family carers are also offered strategies and emotional support about how to deal with the complexities of this unpredictable illness.

We hold 4 different groups providing peer support. Some groups meet on a fortnightly basis, others takes place once a month. At these groups, people with dementia and carers draw significant benefits from being able to exchange practical advice and emotional support from other people in the same situation, as well as enjoying each others company. Due to the projected increase in the number of people with dementia in the years ahead, we are looking to develop peer support as an effective and economical model of support.

We offer two specialist services to people who are diagnosed with dementia who are under 65 years old in West Essex. Firstly, we offer an evening support group for people with dementia and their carers, where people have an opportunity to off-load their concerns and support each other. In addition, in recent weeks we launched our younger person’s Leisure and Well Being service, which has enabled younger people to come together as a group every Friday to undertake enjoyable pursuits that are related to their age group, rather than them attending services offering activities that are aimed at a generation older than themselves.

Mrs Howell said: “We want to drive forward dementia services across West Essex and significantly increase the level of post-diagnostic support available in Uttlesford area to an estimated 1300 people with dementia.

“We are aiming to develop dementia-aware communities and ensure that people with dementia and their carers are supported to remain healthy, active and involved in their community for as long as possible.

“It is regularly stated that dementia presents one of the greatest health and social care challenges of our time and it is becoming clear that the statutory agencies will struggle to meet the needs of older people with mental health problems within the current financial constraints.

“Our major challenge is to keep pace with the demands for our services and respond to the estimated 45 per cent increase in the number of people diagnosed with the condition over the next few years in the Uttlesford area.