Nurse highlights ‘gaping void’ in care for people with young-onset dementia

Fiona Chaâbane says services lack specific skills to meet needs of this patient group 

Fiona Chaâbane says services lack specific skills to meet needs of this patient group 

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Younger people with dementia are falling into a ‘gaping void’ in care, according to a nurse who specialises in their treatment.

University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust clinical nurse specialist, Fiona Chaâbane, is the first in the UK to coordinate care for patients under the age of 65 living with young-onset brain disorders.

Complex needs

‘Older people’s mental health services are focused on those aged 65 and over, while adult mental health services don’t necessarily have the specific skills and experience to meet the needs and complexities of dementia in younger people,’ said Ms Chaâbane.

‘What that leaves us with is a gaping void that individuals with young-onset dementia are falling into – and it is devastating families nationwide.’

More than 40,000 people in the UK are estimated to have been diagnosed with young-onset dementia, according to the Alzheimer’s Society.

Life-changing development

Ms Chaâbane said lumping younger people with dementia into other services failed to recognise the specific challenges these patients face.

‘Someone with young-onset dementia might only be in their 40s with an active life, young children, bills to pay and a full-time job to hold down,’ she said.

‘A diagnosis of this kind will not only be unexpected but completely life-changing for the patient and their family. It is essential they have ongoing support to help them adapt and find specialist services.’

Comprehensive support

Ms Chaâbane provides a range of continuous support services for younger people with dementia, including home visits, expert liaison, clinical monitoring, and patient and family support.

RCN associate director of nursing clinical standards and supporting practice, Yinglen Butt, said there needs to be a rethink of how people with dementia are cared for in the UK.

‘It’s estimated that, by 2025, more than one million people will be living with dementia in the UK, so how we care for them needs to be transformed to address the blind spot in services provided for patients with young-onset dementia,’ she said.

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