Dementia awareness

With an aging population, the number of people in the UK living with, or at risk of dementia is continuing to rise. In 2009, the government responded with a national dementia strategy which included the priority to improve dementia awareness. Building on this strategy, the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge launched in 2012 focused on areas of action to make a difference to those affected by dementia and in 2015 the Department of Health published the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia to 2020 which renewed the commitment to provision of dementia awareness training.

It is reported by the Alzheimer’s Research trust that there are approximately 820,000 people with dementia in the UK today and this number is predicted to double in the next 30 years. Figures for the Thames Valley showed an estimated 24,515 people with dementia in 2014.

Dementia awareness is therefore a key priority for the entire health and care workforce. In addition to those providing clinical care or support for people living with dementia, care may be provided by support staff and other individuals who interact with those affected by dementia and who therefore need to have an awareness and understanding of the specific needs of people living with dementia and those of their carers.

The article, “Forget me not – the role of the general dental practitioner in dementia awareness” by G. McNamara, J. Millwood, Y. M. Rooney & K. Bennett highlights the role of the general dental practitioner in dementia awareness, using the close patient-practitioner relationship to spot the early signs and plan for future oral healthcare.

It states, “each and every member of the dental team plays an important role in the

patient journey through their dental visit and helps address the barriers they face. The

significance of promoting dementia friendly environments cannot be undervalued and the

GDP has a key role in maintaining their patients' quality of life.”

British Dental Journal 217, 245 - 248 (2014).

There is an increasing pressure on professionals working in general practice to treat patients with dementia or with undiagnosed memory problems. This can sometimes be difficult and time consuming as maintaining their oral health is often a low priority for people with dementia, therefore they have higher levels of untreated disease and they may not access dental services until there are acute dental problems.

All NHS staff are required to have received dementia training by 2018, according to the Health Education England Organisation.

To aid the above we have worked with subject experts to create a Dementia Awareness Course specifically for the dental team -

Author : Robert Dyas, Director ProHealthcare CPD

Posted by Gemma

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