Post-diagnostic dementia care

Alistair Burns, Professor of Old Age Psychiatry, University of Manchester and National Clinical Director for Dementia, NHS England.

Featured article - 15 February 2016


Many of us start the new year with a resolution. So it’s a good time for those of us, committed to making England a better place for people with dementia to live, to make the following one. Find out all about the recently-launched joint declaration on post-diagnostic dementia care and support and support it. Once a person with dementia has received a diagnosis it is essential that they get ongoing appropriate post-diagnostic care.

Government, health, social care and the third sector can work together to deliver high quality services to people living with dementia and their families. That’s what the new joint declaration by these bodies hopes to achieve. I’ve written recently on the NHS England blog about some of the challenges for finding medical treatments for dementia and its commonest causes. But what about care and support when someone actually has the condition?

I know SCIE is committed to improving the care and support that people living with dementia deserve. For instance, a film on their site from 2015 shows what it might feel like to live with dementia. Viewers will experience a little of what it is like to find yourself in a world that seems familiar and yet doesn’t always make sense. The incidents pictured in the film and memories recounted are based upon true experiences gathered from people living with dementia.

The video may help to explain why a person with dementia may become frustrated with themselves or those who struggle to understand them. It also shows how people with dementia may lose the capacity to articulate or communicate their anxieties, fears or frustrations.

SCIE’s digital offerings, films and e-learning on the Dementia Gateway are all well used by the social care sector and increasingly by health professionals keen to improve their knowledge and understanding.

It’s vital to provide personalised care, provided in response to individual needs and preferences and which takes into account the person’s age, ethnicity, diagnosis and co-morbidities. Families and carers of people with dementia also have physical and emotional needs which must be recognised, especially at times of change.

It’s also welcome that SCIE is now also providing bespoke dementia training and consultancy. In the last few years, diagnosis rates for dementia have improved. Let’s work towards 2016 being the year when post-diagnostic support does too.

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