A partnership initiative involving Plymouth University has been recognised as being at the forefront of dementia care after receiving a top award at a national ceremony.

Devon Partnership NHS Trust and Plymouth University were named Dementia Team of the Year at the British Medical Journal awards.

The award is in recognition of the work undertaken in care homes in the Torbay area, where dementia champions are working to improve knowledge, leadership skills and confidence among care home staff.

The scheme was made possible by a two-year Prime Ministers’ Challenge Fund grant of £255,000 and the support of South Devon and Torbay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Judges at the awards said the innovative project was “truly person-centred” and is “improving care for some of the most disenfranchised and vulnerable people in society – those with dementia who live in care homes”.

Ian Sherriff, Academic Partnership Lead for Dementia at Plymouth University, said:

“We are very pleased to be working in this multi-disciplinary partnership, which is changing the lives of people with dementia and their families in the Torbay area. It is an example of how the knowledge of our dementia team can make a difference to communities, something which could now be applied elsewhere in the country, and it is fantastic for everyone involved to have this work recognised by an organisation as prestigious as the British Medical Journal.”

At the ceremony in London, tributes were paid to Tammy Jones and Natalie Portwine, Devon Partnership Trust’s dementia facilitators, whose work is improving knowledge, leadership skills and confidence among South Devon care home staff.

Dr Nick Cartmell, GP lead for dementia at South Devon and Torbay CCG, said he hoped the good work undertaken in South Devon would serve as an inspiration elsewhere in England. He added:

“I am delighted that this project, which was funded by money designed specifically to improve dementia care, has won such a prestigious award. This is deserved recognition of the hard work and enthusiasm of everyone involved in it. The benefits it has brought care homes in Torbay, and most importantly their residents with dementia, are huge. We now need to work hard to make sure that these benefits not only continue in Torbay but spread to other parts of the country to help as many care home residents with dementia as possible.”

David Somerfield, Director of Operations and Co-Medical Director at Devon Partnership NHS Trust comments:

“I congratulate everyone who has been involved, it’s a fantastic achievement. Our aim was to improve care in the homes and reduce emergency admissions. The first appears to have been achieved, with good feedback from patients and carers; the second will be the subject of longer-term analysis, conducted independently by a team at Plymouth University.”