Dementia is the name for a group of diseases that lead to the death of brain cells and a progressive loss of mental functions, particularly memory. There are about a hundred different types of dementia, many of which are associated with other neurological diseases that affect mental functions and abilities.

The number of people with some form of dementia is increasing and will increase further as people live longer. Social policies are encouraging people with different disabilities to remain at home with support for as long as possible. This means that they enter a care home only when they require the intensive and specialist care and support that their condition requires. People with dementia will often have other illnesses and conditions, which result in their needs being complex. Each person with dementia always requires a skilled individual approach.

For many service users with dementia, the Covid-19 restrictions proved particularly challenging. Limited face-to-face visits from loved ones alongside reduced understanding of the pandemic situation, have had significant adverse effects on physical health and mental wellbeing and seen many individuals deteriorate considerably more than would usually be anticipated.

As part of the NHS operational plan, people with dementia have been offered a Covid-19 vaccination and this seems to be having a positive impact protecting this vulnerable group.

Care providers should aim to achieve the Dementia Quality standard [QS184] published in 2019 by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE). They should develop their own knowledge of dementia and all aspects of dementia care and make sure that their staff are competent to address the needs of their service users. This clearly includes their being well-informed about dementia and the care strategies and practices needed to achieve a good quality of life for people with dementia.

Training is essential for all staff who provide care and support to people with dementia. The Care Certificate requires that staff new to care work develop at least a basic understanding of dementia. Skills for Care has developed specialised competency frameworks for dementia care and the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) provides free e-Learning training resources, which staff can access to improve their knowledge and skills.

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