Despite the fact that regularly reviewed care plans should be available for everyone living with dementia, new analysis from Age UK shows that over 1 in 3 people with dementia don’t have one.
These care plans are important because they are the gateway to follow-up support from the NHS and help ensure that other support a person may be receiving, such as social care, is properly joined up with NHS help for their dementia.
With the number of people living with dementia estimated to hit 1 million by 2020, Age UK is warning of an urgent and growing need to provide much better support for those who have been told they have the condition.
The charity analysed data from 7,185 GP practices in England and found that in total, 458,461 people had a recorded diagnosis of dementia in November 2017, but only 282,573 had a new care plan, or at least one care plan review, on record in the last year.
Yet NHS England’s guidance says: “there is an urgent need to ensure every person who has dementia has an individual care plan” and goes on to specify that these reviews should take place once every 12 months as a minimum. The plans are supposed to set out the tailored support someone should receive and are meant to be reviewed regularly with a health professional as a person’s condition progresses and changes. Care plans are equally important for family members who are often providing significant amounts of care for their loved one.
The charity also found that a quarter of practices have 50% or fewer people with a dementia diagnosis having received, or having had a review, of a care plan in the last 12 months.
In light of these figures Age UK launched its ‘Promising Approaches to Dementia’ report in February this year, which identifies a number of interventions that are evidenced, cost effective and scalable, and which could be replicated by NHS Trusts, care providers and primary care services.
The services highlighted in the report include projects which provide counselling for the newly diagnosed, encourage people to get involved in arts and crafts activities and help people to reminisce through dance. Some of the projects included are listed below:
- Counselling for people with dementia run by Age UK Camden:
The service offers support both to people who are experiencing memory issues and may be feeling anxious about seeking a diagnosis, and those who have been diagnosed with dementia.
- Cogs clubs run by local Age UKs:
These clubs offer people with mild to moderate dementia a five-hour weekly session of fun and stimulation – to ‘oil the cogs’ of their brain and body.
- Living Together with Dementia run by Tavistock Relationships:
The programme aims to improve the quality of life and mental health of couples living with dementia through couple-focused psychosocial interventions.
- Circles of Support pilot programmes run in the South of England:
These programmes aim to help the person with dementia to think through how they want their life to be and to plan for life now and in the future, using person-centred approaches.
- BUDS run by Better Understanding for Dementia in Sandwell:
The befriending service offers people with dementia living in the Sandwell area the opportunity to receive a weekly visit from a volunteer for a couple of hours.
- Shake Your Tail Feather:
Shake Your Tail Feather events involve a team of five specialist dancers and acrobats going into care homes using very little language, and with a rich musical score. The aim is to nurture non-verbal expression, especially for people with later stage dementia, for whom words are often tricky.
Other groups include Sporting Memories, Dance Well, Dementia Adventure, the Secret Garden and the Butterfly Scheme.
A good life
Kate Joplin, Policy and Strategy Consultant and author of the report, said:
‘We built this guide on the back of what people with dementia and their carers told us a ‘good life’ meant to them, and what they felt helped them to live well. And then we went out and found examples of organisations trying to support people in those aspects of life. What we’ve produced is a practical resource for individuals, organisations and communities who want a better deal for people with dementia – it sets out what people with dementia want, what’s been tried elsewhere, what evidence there is that it works.’
To find out more and to see a copy of AGE UK’s ‘Promising Approaches to Dementia’ report, please go to: www.ageuk.org.uk/wellbeingresearch or contact AGE UK on 0800 055 6112