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New dementia strategy for nurses

Nurses caring for those with dementia are urged to fit the care they provide to the individual not just the condition, according to new guidance from the Department of Health.

Nurses caring for those with dementia are urged to fit the care they provide to the individual not just the condition, according to new guidance from the Department of Health (DH).

A shift in how people with dementia are viewed is needed to move towards more proactive and compassionate care pathways says the refreshed dementia strategy.

The guidelines build on a 2013 document that set out new training for healthcare professionals and a more community-based approach to care.

Proactive planning

DH mental health, learning disability and dementia care professional officer Ben Thomas said he wanted the updated strategy to encourage nurses to proactively plan care with individual patients and their loved-ones.

Dr Thomas said: 'I want nurses to see people with dementia with fresh eyes and move away from the traditional view of an older person who is incapable of making decisions and getting on with life, to see the person with dementia who has a story, family, community and social network.

'People can be diagnosed and still have a life worth living.'

There are around 676,000 people with dementia in England, and this number is expected to double in the next 30 years. 

Dr Thomas said many people with dementia have other conditions and those factors needed to be considered when planning individual care.

Humanistic care

'The unique thing about nursing is that you spend time with the person listening to their story, what interests them, what preferences they have and what social networks – it’s the humanistic aspect,' he said.

The refreshed strategy, Making a difference in dementia – nursing vision and strategy, also highlights achievements since the original document was published.

These include the training of around 516,000 NHS staff to better support people with dementia.

This Tier 1 training programme aims to reach all NHS staff by the end of 2018.

More than a million people in England have become dementia friends supporting people in the community, the strategy notes.


Further information

Read the Department of Health's refreshed dementia strategy

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