750,000 people have dementia in the UK – costing the country an estimated £20 billion pa. Both figures are expected to rise as the population ages. This means we are facing a potential dementia time bomb.

The need to recognise the importance of dementia services was therefore a recurring theme at the Progressing Care in Dementia Services conference in Birmingham in early February 2012.

Some of the important points to emerge from the conference were:

  • The need for early diagnosis, integration between health and social care, and the shifting of care into the community, away from acute services in hospitals. (Karishma Chandaria, The Alzheimer’s Society).
  • 25 – 40% of people in hospital have cognitive impairment or dementia – but adopting best practice in dementia care can reduce the length of stay, the number of falls and the use of antipsychotic medication as well as improving management of continence. Best practice includes early identification, skilled staff with time to care, partnership working with carers, personalised care plans and a dementia friendly environment. (Rachel Thomson, Royal College of Nursing).
  • The need to get behind the diagnosis of dementia and provide person centred care, with more ‘things to do’ in their environment, PAT dog, carers groups, memory boxes and red toilet seats and doors some examples of practical non pharmaceutical interventions. (Dr Phil Anderson and Dr Karen Dodd, Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust).
  • The importance of linking care support for people with dementia in acute care and in care homes, as they may well move between the two and have a mix of health problems. (Joanne Hirst, Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber Healthcare NHS Trust).
  • The value of collaborative learning for health professionals working with people with dementia, recognising that achieving quality improvements is a long term project. (Dr Terry Lynch, NHS South of England).
  • The value of people with dementia as educators (provided ethical considerations have been thought through); the creation of ‘Stand by Me’ as a potential film resource for people with dementia and their carers; and the development of carefitforvips as a resource for care homes, to help reduce the use of medication. (Helen Bown, NHS Gloucestershire and Kerry-Ann Lees, DoCare Ltd).
  • The value of local education in dementia for GPs and other primary care staff. (Dr Nick Cartmell, NHS Devon & the South West Dementia Partnership).
  • The availability of ‘Portrait of a Life’ as a multimedia toolkit with the potential to achieve significant improvements in the quality of life for people with dementia and their carers. (Suzanne Wightman, South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust).

Progressing Care in Dementia Services was organised by SBK healthcare events. 

Published 12/02/2012, Review date May 2015