Tag Archives: caring for dementia

Dementia -What Every Carer Should Experience to Give Them Understanding

What do people with dementia hear, see and feel?

Every person is unique and the way dementia affects them is different.

Physical Changes

A recent training session delivered by the nursing department of the West of Scotland University, gave me a real insight as to what it was like. Absolutely terrifying, frustrating, and exhausting!

Difficulty with dexterity, clumsy, arthritic

We had to put on latex gloves and had our fingers taped together to give us an idea of what it can be like to have arthritis and changes in dexterity.

Visual changes, macular degeneration, glaucoma, cataracts

We had to put on goggles which really changed the way you could see.

Auditory noise, incessant jabbering

We had to put on earphones which had a constant jabbering noise sound resonating through them.

It was impossible to function with all the noise and difficulties. The noise was particularly distracting.

The noise was so irritating and annoying and it was totally impossible to concentrate.

All the staff who took part in the training were upset by how little they understood what living with dementia was like.

This video shows how difficult it can be to live with dementia.  


All carers would care differently and much more sympathetically if they had this training.

It would give them a real understanding of exactly what a person with dementia experiences.

Click here for  our Nursing Care Plans for a person with Dementia


We have always been tried to be innovative in our approach to caring for the elderly.

Music for everyone can be extremely therapeutic whether it be calming, or uplifting.

YouTube has a wonderful video showing the effect listening to music on an ipod has on a person with dementia.

With the help of families and relatives we have uploaded music personal to individual residents and we have seen incredible improvements in people with dementia.

It actually can be miraculous for some people, and can really improve their quality of life in a way you would not think possible.

What effect does music have on a person with dementia?

  • It can quieten the incessant noise 
  • It can bring back memories of happy times and feelings 
  • It can take up a persons attention for a time
  • It can stop for a time anxiety and worry 
Whatever it actually does, it really helps some people.


Massage has been used for centuries to heal, relax, revitalise and comfort. 

Aromatherapy is the practice of using the natural oils extracted from flowers, bark, stems, leaves, roots or other parts of a plant to enhance psychological and physical well-being.

The inhaled aroma from these “essential” oils is widely believed to stimulate brain function. Aromatherapy can provide pain relief, mood enhancement, and increased cognitive function.

Aromatherapy is one of the most successful alternative therapies for some elderly people with dementia.  
What is remarkable is that all of the treatments resulted in significant benefit, including, in most instances, reductions in agitation, sleeplessness, wandering, and unsociable behaviour.

For many elderly people the physical touch during massage, and the one to one attention is comforting and calming.

Click here to read the full report published by Alzheimer’s Society Research on Aromatherapy for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

50,000 will have to leave work this year to care for someone with dementia

An article In the Independent examines the “cost” and the devastating impact dementia has on families, carers and society as a whole.  

In a report compiled by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) it states that “up to £1.6 billion a year is lost to English business every year, as employees take time off or leave work altogether to provide at-home care for elderly relatives.”

Alzheimer’s Society, is launching a new campaign, Dementia Friends, alongside the government body Public Health England (PHE) to promote “a whole society response” to dementia, which now affects around 800,000 people in the UK.

It is my experience that many relatives and family members feel utterly exhausted both mentally and physically and also feel very unsupported. 
This move will hopefully give all involved a better quality of life with much more support than is presently available.
“Dementia isn’t just a health condition,” Jeremy Hunt said. “It attacks the fabric of our society and can take a huge toll on the families and friends of those affected by the disease,” he said. “I am urging everyone – families, communities, and businesses to come together to ensure that people with dementia can continue to live fulfilling and rewarding lives.”

More must be done to support and sustain people with dementia and their families.

Everyone should become a dementia friend at www.dementiafriends.org.uk

Dementia poses £4bn threat to businesses: Thousands of workers will be forced to leave jobs or cut hours to become carers

Thousands of people with dementia and their carers will be forced to give up their jobs, costing employers more than £3billion, warn campaigners.

There will be a mounting toll on business from all forms of dementia including Alzheimer’s as the number affected is set to rise to over one million in England by 2030.

A new report shows the cost of staff hours that will be lost due to caring for someone suffering from dementia, as well as the loss of skills and experience from the workforce.

It says there will be a huge impact on businesses as increasing numbers of workers are obliged to reduce hours, change work patterns or even quit their jobs due to the demands of caring.

The number of people leaving paid employment to care for people with dementia will rise from 50,000 in 2014 to 83,100 in 2030, says the report from the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

The cost of lost hours of workers with dementia forced to retire will go up from £628 million to reach £1.2 billion by 2030, it says.

This will be dwarfed by the £2.2billion cost of carers forced to quit, while £763 million will be lost by carers’ curtailing their hours.

Companies must adapt the working environment to help sufferers and their carers in order to minimise the financial burden, and provide support to their workforce, says the report.

For example, if companies used flexible working to increase their employment rate of dementia carers by just over two per cent   the retention of these skilled and experienced staff would deliver a saving of £415 million by 2030.

The report was released by Public Health England and Alzheimer’s Society, who recently joined forces to launch the Dementia Friends campaign which aims to support people with dementia and their carers.

It says businesses have started to recognise this issue, with one in 12 of 1,000 companies surveyed having made attempts to accommodate the needs of a member of staff with dementia.

More than half are considering taking such action in the future.

So far more than 20 major businesses are committed to supporting staff and customers with dementia.

Over 100,000 employees from businesses including LloydsPharmacy and M&S are now Dementia Friends, while other companies such as Barclays, Lloyds Banking Group, Argos, BT and Bourne Leisure (Butlins, Haven and Warner Leisure Hotels) have also pledged for their staff to become Dementia Friends.

The report says businesses that are not ‘dementia friendly’ will lose out because the spending power of households affected by dementia, is set to double to £22.7 billion by 2030, from £11 billion in 2014.

Growing problem: with an ageing population, the number of workers leaving to help family members with dementia will rise from the current 50,000 to 83,100 in 2030, the report reveals

Growing problem: With an ageing population, the number of workers leaving to help family members with dementia will rise from the current 50,000 to 83,100 in 2030, the report reveals

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said ‘Thousands of people affected by dementia are forced to give up work and are denied a lifeline because of the failure of organisations to change the way they do business.

‘From the shop floor to boardrooms, dementia affects every workplace; from people struggling with the early symptoms of memory loss at work, to those juggling a job whilst caring for a loved one.

‘As the condition touches the lives of more people, businesses must gear up to support all people with dementia; staff and customers alike.

‘With dementia affecting millions of people, businesses who ignore the dementia pound do so at their own peril.’

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said ‘Dementia is one of the biggest challenges we face, and our ambition is to become one of the best countries in the world for dementia care.

‘We can only do this with the help and support of every part of society.

‘It’s great that businesses, communities and individuals are showing such willingness to help and support those living with dementia – demonstrated by nearly 350,000 people who have already signed up to become Dementia Friends.’

Matt Hammerstein, Managing Director for Barclays, said ‘Barclays is committed to supporting vulnerable customers and we have the ambition to be the most accessible and inclusive bank for all customers and clients.

‘Becoming a dementia friendly company is something that we feel is important to support our colleagues, customers and wider society. It is also crucial to us as a business to help us make all our customers’ lives easier.

‘We urge other businesses to sign up and help make all those affected by dementia continue to feel valued.’
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Source Mail Online

NHS ‘still failing’ dementia patients, report says

People with severe dementia are still not getting acceptable care from the NHS in Scotland, according to a mental health watchdog.

The Mental Welfare Commission says there are still huge variations in care levels across the country.

The report says that while progress has been made, too many units still fail to meet acceptable standards.

However, the Scottish government said it’s policies had given Scotland a “world-leading” level of dementia care.

About 86,000 people in Scotland have dementia, a third of whom are in care homes.

The Mental Welfare Commission first examined the care of people in dementia units in 2007, when it found that some people were being kept in wards 24 hours a day, for years on end. It also found that no social or recreational activities were available in more than half of wards.

The watchdog has published a new report following visits to 52 units, which provide specialist care for people with complex and severe dementia. It examined the care provided to 336 people and talked to 129 carers and relatives.

The report said whilst some progress has been made, the care and the environment in too many units still fail to meet acceptable standards.

The organisation’s Dr Gary Morrison told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “Basically we found that there was too little pleasurable of purposeful activity going on.

“There was too little person-centred care, there was too little access to the outside world, to fresh air, and there was too much medication.”

The number of units having access to outside space has risen from around half to 71%, but the commission says only 37% of these were safe, attractive and well-maintained.

No care plan

In two units, the only light into communal areas was via skylights or high windows, meaning people spent the majority of their day with no way of seeing the world outside. Seven units were described as “institutional, bare and stark”.

Inspectors also expressed concerns about excessive use of medication. A total of 45% of residents were taking antipsychotics, the majority of which were unlicensed for use in dementia and which could have significant side effects.

Meanwhile there was often little effort to avoid medication to sedate people. One in ten residents had no care plan – which contains essential information on the triggers for stress or distress.

One person had been prescribed seven psychotropic drugs but there was no behavioural care plan in place because staff thought it was not needed.

One quarter of patients’ care plans appeared to be generic, or to have been cut and pasted from one patient to the next. One referred to communication with a spouse who had been dead for 30 years. In one unit the same care plan was typed out in every file.

However, relatives appeared to be content with the care on offer, with 98% saying they were satisfied with the care provided and all of them said their relative was treated with care and respect.

Deeply disappointed

The Mental Welfare Commission has recommended that the Scottish government set out how it is going to deliver on commitments contained in its National Dementia Strategy, which was first published in 2010.

It also says the NHS needs to consistently apply a “wealth of knowledge” about the importance of a pleasant environment, and provide a range of activities to create meaningful days. The watchdog also says that mediation should be a last resort, not the first.

Alzheimer Scotland said it was “deeply disappointed” by the extent of the problems highlighted in the report. The charity said failing to follow the proper procedures for prescribing drugs was “unlawful as well as a potential breach of human rights” and “must cease now”.

The Scottish government responded to the report’s findings by saying that it has raised levels of investment for dementia carers and that the country benefitted from a “world-leading” approach to dementia care.

Figures from the government showed that it had invested another £500,000 in education and front-line caring staff along with an extra £360,000 pledged for Alzheimer’s Scotland nurses over the next three years.

The government also stated that this extra spending was in addition to a £1.2m joint investment for Alzheimer’s Scotland nurses over the past three years.

Continued support

Michael Matheson, minister for public health, said: “We know timely diagnosis and post-diagnostic support for dementia is vital, and I’m proud that Scotland is leading the way on this.

“We are committed to transforming dementia services with a range of other activity in our current Dementia Strategy.

“I am confident that, with the continued support, professionalism and hard work of all those involved, we will continue to improve care and provide better support for people in our communities living with dementia.”

This additional investment was welcome by Henry Simmons, Chief Executive of Alzheimer Scotland.

He said: “We are delighted by this substantial and significant further investment in both the Dementia Champions and the Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurses.

“Scotland is leading the way in developing innovative educational frameworks and improvement methodologies.”

He added: “These are two area of focus that are vital to our members and to everyone living with dementia in Scotland. The investment and dedicated focus in these two areas is extremely encouraging.”

Scotland currently has a 20% higher level of dementia than those in England and Wales, figures from 2012-2013 found.

Source BBC News

Thousands of dementia patients not referred to specialists

Thousands of patients with suspected dementia are not being referred to specialists after being admitted to hospital as an emergency, new figures show.

Charities on Thursday night said that many of society’s most vulnerable were “slipping through the net” with some hospitals referring less than three per cent of suspected cases for expert assessment.

Thousands of patients with undiagnosed dementia are admitted to hospital as an emergency every year, often following a crisis in their care.

Two years ago the Government set a new target which says that when such patients are 75 and over, they should be checked for signs of the condition, and referred to a specialist if the disease is suspected.

But new statistics show that despite a national target to achieve this in 90 per cent of cases, in some parts of the country as few as two per cent of such patients with a “positive or inconclusive” diganosis of dementia were referred to specialists.

Experts say such checks are vital because less than half of cases of dementia in this country are diagnosed, leaving patients without care and support.

The Department of Health estimates that 670,000 people in England are suffering from the condition, yet only 320,000 have been diagnosed, according to official statistics.

Experts say many dementia sufferers end up in hospital because of crises which could have been avoided if they were given better care from GPs and social services.

The figures from NHS England show that in the six months from April to December, more than 4,000 pensioners with suspected dementia were not referred for specialist care.

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society, said far too many vulnerable patients were missing out on help because hospitals were not doing enough to identify those with dementia.

He said: “The wide variation in referrals to specialist services suggests that many older people at risk of or having dementia are not being identified. It is worrying to think of the number of people with dementia slipping through the net and missing out on a diagnosis.”

Health regulators have warned that Accident & Emergency (A&E) admisssions are “out of control” with too many elderly frail patients ending up on a ward because basic care was not given when they needed it.

After being admitted to hospital, patients with conditions like Alzheimers’ disease are likely to remain there for far longer than other patients, and suffer worse care.

In December a study of more than 17 million hospital visits found patients with the condition had far higher mortality rates, longer lengths of hospital stay and a higher likelihood of readmission than patients without it.

Those with dementia are also three times more likely to suffer a fall while on a ward than other patients, condemning them to longer stays.

Prof Alistair Burns, national director of dementia for NHS England, said: “We introduced this scheme because we wanted to raise the quality of care that people with dementia receive and to identify those who might not have been diagnosed with dementia. Across the country less than half of cases across England have been identified, but there is enormous variation within that – it ranges from 38 per cent to 76 per cent.

He said higher diagnosis rates would mean patients could get treatment and support sooner when they were discharged from hospital.

But he said it was also vital that hospital staff did more to help those identified as having the condition, who needed tailored care.

Prof Burns said: “If nurses know a patient has dementia they know they have to take extra care – that if the person hasn’t eaten their meal they check its not because of confusion, that they ensure they are hydrated, that all the care is in place.”

He suggested the care hospitals give those with dementia was a litmus test of the standards they provide for all patients.

“If hospitals get it right for dementia, the chances are they are getting it right for everyone,” he said.

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Foundation trust, Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Foundation trust and Barts Health trust in London all said their seemingly poor records were down to poor reporting methods, which had since been addressed.

Other trusts said they were working hard to improve their performance.

The 16 trusts which referred less than two thirds of cases:

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals Foundation trust 2 per cent

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Foundation trust 3 per cent

Barts Health trust 14 per cent

The Princess Alexandra Hospital trust 17 per cent

Salisbury Foundation trust 36 per cent

East Sussex Healthcare trust 47 per cent

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Foundation trust 50 per cent

The Hillingdon Hospitals Foundation trust 54 per cent

Milton Keynes Hospital foundation trust 57 per cent

North Bristol trust 59 per cent

Northampton General Hospital trust 60 per cent

Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals trust 63 per cent

Barking Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals trust 64 per cent

South Devon Healthcare Foundation trust 64 per cent

Stockport Foundation trust 64 per cent

Epsom and St Helier trust 66 per cent

Source: NHS England

Measurement: percentage of patients aged 75 and over admitted as an emergency with dementia or an “inconclusive diagnostic assessment” who were referred to a specialist, average for months April to December. Some trusts did not report figures every month.

Source The Telegraph

Businesses braced for dementia care crisis to hit workplace

The lack of professional care for people suffering dementia is threatening a staffing crisis for British businesses as workers are forced to cut their hours or quit to support loved-ones, new research shows.

Nine out of 10 companies fear their business will increasingly be affected by the knock-on effects of dementia on families, according to the study by the business group “Employers for Carers”, which was set up by the charity Carers UK

Seven out of 10 firms which responded said they are braced to lose highly qualified staff because of caring commitments while two thirds fear it will impact their workers’ own health or productivity.

Already more than 90 per cent of those surveyed said they were aware of staff with caring commitments, primarily for elderly parents or other loved-ones with dementia. Yet the study found evidence that the stigma around dementia could mean that some workers have not told their employer.

Around 6.5 million people in the UK provide some form of unpaid care for family members and Government estimates suggest that the number looking after someone with dementia will grow by a quarter to 850,000 by the end of this decade.

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, warned last year that Britain is facing “substantial economic loss” if companies do not have a radical rethink of working practices.

A poll of 1,000 current or recent carers found that more than half (53 per cent) believed their caring responsibilities had already had a negative impact on their work trough factors such as tiredness, anxiety or stress etc. Meanwhile more than a quarter of those currently caring fear that it was likely to affect their capacity to work in the future.

Heléna Herklots, chief executive of Carers UK, said: “The employers and carers we work with are telling us the same story as the statistics – that dementia and the impact on employees of caring is a key issue for workforce retention, recruitment and resilience. “Very often the need to care for an elderly parent comes at peak career age.

“Without the right support, the challenges of combining such caring with work (often also with other family responsibilities) can quickly become too difficult to manage. Employees with valuable experience and skills will then either leave their jobs or struggle to cope in the workplace.

“The experiences from carers and employers captured in this research show that the current support needs of people caring for loved ones with dementia are not being met, especially by care and support services.”

She added: “This lack of support is compounded by a perceived stigma around dementia, often reported by carers, which explains why it remains such a hidden issue in so many workplaces.”

Source The Telegraph