Mental health discussion at Conservative Party Conference

Two academics from the School of Nursing, Midwifery, Social Work & Social Science used the Conservative Party Conference as an opportunity to discuss dementia and mental health, hopefully bringing the issues to the forefront. Senior Lecturer Natalie Yates-Bolton’s presentation, titled, “Dementia: Global leadership, local solutions” was delivered at the Radisson Hotel, Manchester on Monday 5th October. She explored how policymakers can take forward the dementia agenda on an international stage. It also covered the future role of local government in dementia care and how City-level devolution can be harnessed towards co-ordinated, person-centred dementia care.

Natalie described the important role played by universities and organisations such as the Salford Institute for Dementia.

She said: “At Salford Institute for Dementia, we are contributing to the development of enabling environments and assistive technology to support people with dementia living at home for longer.

“We contribute to the development of communication skills training for front-line staff, which provides services for people with dementia. We are also equipping the next generation of professionals by providing dementia education for practitioners and professionals from many different disciplines. This work is nationally and internationally significant.”

Dr Elizabeth Collier hosted a session at The Bridgewater Hall, exploring whether older people with mental illness are a neglected group.

Entitled ‘Older people with mental illness: a severe case of neglect?’ the discussion highlighted the need to focus on issues relating to mental health that are unique to older people.

Elizabeth said: “We need to present the evidence in a balanced and constructive way by not assuming that loneliness is just an older person’s issue – younger people also report higher prevalence of loneliness.

“The language we use is unhelpful and creates a sense of ‘other’; we need to listen to the preferences and not alienate older people. Our cultural discourse does not facilitate a positive attitude to older people with mental illness.”

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