There are more than 40,000 people in Ireland with dementia, some 14,000 of whom are in residential care.
The initiative, led by the charity Genio, will develop and test new services for those with dementia, which will eventually become national policy.
K-Cord, the Kinsale Community Response to Dementia, will work with Genio’s support to develop community-based services for dementia-sufferers over the next three and a half years.
The scheme was launched on behalf of Kathleen Lynch, the junior health minister, by Ciarán Lynch TD yesterday.
He said that the project aims to ensure that people with dementia can live for longer within their own communities and have an improved quality of life.
Mr Lynch said such an approach is expected to provide significant savings for the exchequer.
“Starting in Kinsale, we will develop and test new service models, and the results of this will influence public policy and investment in this area.
“These projects should build the leadership required in the field and drive permanent change to the benefit of people with dementia, their families and society in general,” Mr Lynch said.
Genio is leading the project in collaboration with the Department of Health and with the support of the Atlantic Philanthropies and the HSE, which are jointly funding the €4.3m cost of the Kinsale project and three others which will be launched around the country.
The charity wants to “refocus services” to tailor them for individual need.
The Kinsale project, led by Dr Tony Foley of The Medical Centre, will include a community drop-in centre for people with dementia and innovative activities for people to participate in. It will also provide training for professionals and volunteers and support to carers.
“We believe the people of Kinsale will demonstrate that communities, in collaboration with professionals, can and will provide the support needed by people with dementia to keep them active and involved in their community,” Dr Foley said.