Person centred-support – a vital part of dementia care

July 16, 2012 | By | Reply More

Person centred-support – a vital part of dementia care

By Diane Lightfoot, Director of Communications, United Response

Launched in March, the ‘Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia’ white paper contains a list of 14 commitments, covering: Improvements in Health and Care; Creating Dementia Friendly Communities that Understand How to Help; and Better Research.

Commitment 4 in this white paper talks about “A Dementia Care and Support Compact signed by leading care home and home care providers”. It goes on to say that ten leading organisations have committed to delivering high-quality relationship-based care and support for people with dementia. They have also pledged to engage and involve the wider community in this work.


The white paper marks the culmination of increased insight into the scope and extent of the effects of dementia in the UK. These facts, from the Alzheimer’s Society website, cover some of the most salient points:


  1. 800,000 people living in the UK have dementia.Within 10 years this will increase to 1 million and by 2051 the figure will be 1.7 million
  2. Currently only 41% of people with dementia receive a diagnosis
  3. The propensity to have dementia rises with age, from 1 in 1,400 (40-64years) to 1 in 6 (80+ years)
  4. Family carers contribute 34.8% of the £23billion cost of dementia to the UK. This equates to a staggering £8billion.


But statistics only tell part of the story. Indeed, the main message of this year’s Dementia Awareness Week, which ran from 20-26 May, was to remember that there’s more to a person than the dementia. The focus should be on the person, not the dementia.


This attitude chimes perfectly with United Response’s person-centered approach to supporting people with dementia. Indeed, this approach is at the heart of everything that we have done over the past 39 years.


The Prime Minister’s white paper calls for a similar, personalised approach to dementia support. It talks, specifically, about ‘relationship based care and support’. The question is; how will this work within the NHS?


Searching online under ‘Dementia Awareness Week’ uncovered a web chat run by two clinical nurse specialists, working at a Midlands NHS Trust, with over 50 years combined experience of dementia and caring for older people.


The web chat revealed that their dementia training is a mixture of mandatory sessions for new members of staff and monthly voluntary sessions. Apparently many NHS hospitals are beginning to see the benefit of giving person-centred dementia care training to their staff.


At this Midlands Trust they had been giving this type of training for over ten years. The techniques and tools taught in such training turned out to be both ingenuous and creative


The Trust in question introduced a ‘Getting to Know Me’ form for dementia patients. This is an adaptation of a form produced by the Dementia Services Development Centre at Stirling University. The form is filled in by the patient’s family or carer and it covers the patient’s previous life and experiences. Using this personal insight, staff can better meet the various needs of the person they support.


The Trust also has activity coordinators who are employed to help calm people prone to agitation. They encourage ‘purposeful activities’ for those who need stimulation in a hospital environment.


Crucially, this particular Trust also has very good relationships with external organisations. For example, they have worked very closely with the Alzheimer’s Society on projects including Memory Lane and the Forget-Me-Not Lounge.


Almost all the techniques, tools, projects and campaigns mentioned in the web chat shared a common trait. It was all about staff adopting a patient (or person)-centred approach.


At United Response, we feel that a person-centred approach is critical to delivering effective dementia support. Indeed, we have pioneered and developed expertise in this type of support for as long as we have existed as an organisation, as evidenced by our Best Practice Guide. For more information please visit:


We are pleased to see that an approach we place so much faith in has been taken onboard by the Government, leading charities and the NHS, as they look to the future of dementia support.

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Category: Alzheimer's Care, Assisted Living, Care At Home, Care funding, Care News, Care Operators, Care provision, Dementia Care, Dementia Training, Domiciliary Care, Elderly care, Social Care, Supported living

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