[WATCH] 1771 dementia helpline launched

Four digit number for dementia sufferers and relatives

Parliamentary secretary for the elderly Justyne Caruana
Parliamentary secretary for the elderly Justyne Caruana
Government launches dementia helpline

The government has launched the 1771 helpline for dementia sufferers and their relatives. The national helpline, which is operating on a 24-hour basis, aims to provide patients and relatives with the necessary support.

The helpline was launched by parliamentary secretary for the elderly Justyne Caruana, in the drive towards creating a more dementia-friendly society.

Caruana said interviews were currently underway for the setting up of a dementia intervention team, which will be offering its services directly within the community.

“The government’s dementia strategy, which will cover the next nine years, targets the availability of services, raising awareness about these services as well as offering the necessary aid as their main aim,” she said, adding that the helpline was therefore essential.

Caruana said that some 6,000 people have been diagnosed with dementia so far, and that the number included those who were already at a care-home as well as those still living in the community.

She added that the World Health Organization had previously said that the condition was expected to be an economic burden on various countries, and that if countries weren’t prepared, they could see their whole health system collapse due to the economic cost of such a condition.

Acting charge nurse for the Dementia Centre at Saint Vincent de Paul Residence, Aaron Farrugia, said the helpline service will be operated by four professional nurses.

“The nurses manning the helpline have all had extensive experience with the condition, and they have also received further training to be able to provide any sort of assistance required.

SVPR CEO Josianne Cutajar added that the nurses would be available to offer assistance and information about the services available.

“They have also received training about other issues that may arise, like financial issues as well as emergencies, in which case we would contact social workers and the police respectively.”

Cutajar stressed that the service aimed to become a one-stop-shop kind of service to provide callers with all the help they needed rather than sending them from one source to another for help.

“This helpline is part of the drive at SVPR to provide a high quality service for those with dementia,” Cutajar said.

She added that training courses for informal carers would soon be provided on a community level, in addition to the training offered at the residence for professionals.

Caruana further explained that Malta was one of 21 countries around the world that had enforced a Dementia strategy, and that Malta was the only country to offer a dementia friendly version of the strategy.

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