Rallying call for all nurses to help people with dementia

Nurses across all specialties should have an understanding of dementia to ensure people with the condition get the support they need, a charity said.

Nurses across all specialties should have an understanding of dementia to ensure people with the condition get the support they need, a charity said.

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The Alzheimer's Society director of campaigns and partnerships Rob Burley said nurses have a crucial role to play.

In an interview with Nursing Standard at the Alzheimer’s Society Annual Conference 2017 on 18 May, Mr Burley said the unique contact that nurses have with patients with other conditions makes them ideally placed to spot when something is wrong.

‘Nurses have a key role, not only in caring for people with dementia but in helping to diagnose dementia in the first place,’ he said in an interview at the conference in London, attended by around 1,000 people.

He added: ‘Seven in 10 people with dementia are living with another condition as well so they will be in contact with nurses.’

There are currently 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, but the figure is set to rise to over one million by 2025.

Social care bill

The Alzheimer’s Society last week published a report that estimates it would take someone 125 years to save for the typical bill for dementia social care, based on a saving of £800 per year to ‘live well’ with the condition.

Mr Burley highlighted that the report also showed three in five carers say their health has been negatively affected by caring for someone with dementia.

‘A lot of carers are becoming ill as a result of caring and it may be that they are presenting with conditions as a consequence of that role. Therefore, nurses have a fantastic role to play here,’ he said.

He also urged nurses to become ‘dementia friends’, which involves a short online or face-to-face training course to improve their understanding of the condition.

The conference also heard from Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes, who said the rights of people with the condition ‘to be heard’ under the UN convention on the rights of people with disabilities is a priority for the charity.

People with dementia also spoke at the event, including Shelagh Robinson, an interviewee for the report who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease seven years ago.

She told the conference: ‘I have dementia and therefore I need some support, but what defines me is I am a counsellor and a passionate lover of Shakespeare. These things are me, not the dementia.’


A general election hustings event also took place, with Conservative health spokesperson Jeremy Hunt, Baroness Joan Walmsley for the Liberal Democrats and Labour peer David Lipsey.

They were quizzed on a number of topics, including an announcement in the Conservative manifesto that the party would abandon the recommendation of Andrew Dilnot’s commission to cap lifetime care costs at £35,000.

Peter McManus, a campaigner on care costs who spent £400,000 on his wife’s care for dementia over eight years, told politicians that the announcement had ‘completely disregarded the cost to families’ and the impact on carers.

Mr Hunt said a Conservative government would spend the same amount as Sir Andrew has proposed, but that they have ‘come up with something that’s fairer’.

Lord Lipsey said Labour would cap care costs at a ‘not specified’ amount. The Liberal Democrats would implement Sir Andrew's recommendations.

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