Evidence assembled in the “Dementia: a state of the nation report on dementia care and support in England” report has been interpreted as indicating the following ten priorities for action and further research:
- Prevention: improvements to public health are required to support (or nudge) people in making healthy choices and avoiding the known risk factors which may cause dementia.
- Diagnosis and post-diagnosis support: Clinical Commissioning Groups and local councils should, by 2015, work to ensure two-thirds of people with dementia receive a diagnosis and are able to access appropriate support.
- High quality, compassionate care: people with dementia and their carers need care and support which is “flexible, appropriate, timely and provided by skilled staff”; whether at home, in hospital or in a care home.
- Autonomy and personal control: people with dementia and their carers should be enabled to exert control over their care and be involved in decision-making about their lives across all stages of the disease.
- Cutting inappropriate medication: both NHS and social care organisations should continue to reduce inappropriate prescribing of antipsychotics for people with dementia.
- End of life care: promoting alternatives to dying in hospital. People with dementia and their families require “planning ahead” conversations with qualified staff. Excellent end of life care should treat patients with dignity and respect.
- Dementia education and training: ensuring NHS and Social Care staff are able to recognise the signs of dementia; and are aware how to support people with the condition, and their families / carers.
- Dementia friendly communities: creation of a more dementia-friendly society. The Dementia Friends programme encourages greater public awareness and involvement in helping to support people with dementia and their families.
- Research: further dementia research and more people taking part in clinical trials.“Since 2009/10, government-funded dementia research in England has almost doubled, from £28.2 million to £52.2 million in 2012/13. At the same time, funding by the charitable sector has increased, in the case of Alzheimer’s Research UK from £4.2 million to £6.8 million, and Alzheimer’s Society from £2 million to £5.3 million over the same period”. (p.57).
- Better data and evidence: national health and care organisations (NHS England, Public Health England, Health Education England, the Care Quality Commission and the Health and Social Care Information Centre) should work to improve the availability and quality of data on dementia care and support.
“Dementia is a global problem that demands global solutions… December’s G8 Dementia Summit presents a unique opportunity to lead a world-wide effort to improve the lives of all those affected by dementia. The G8 countries will hold specific events throughout 2014 focused on social investment and financing, finding new models of care and helping industry to harness academic research”. (p.63)
Dementia: a state of the nation report on dementia care and support in England. London: Department of Health, November 29th 2013.
Note: Readers may also be interested in a set of alternative / parallel research objectives and priorities set by an earlier Dementia Priority Setting Partnership.
Dementia: Five Priorities for Research (BBC Health News)
The BBC has presented a different analysis. The top five priorities for research according to BBC Health News are:
- Diagnosing dementia early.
- Stopping brain cells dying.
- Developing drugs to treat the symptoms.
- Finding ways to reduce the risk.
- Working out the best care.
Gallagher, J. (2013). Dementia: five priorities for research. London: BBC Health News, December 10th 2013.