Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Dementia care given a low priority

  • Comment
Older people in the final stages of dementia deserve the same access to palliative care as people with cancer, UK nurse researchers have said.

Jan Draper, professor of nursing at the Open University, and Deborah Birch, a clinical nurse specialist working with older people in Lincoln, carried out a review of 29 studies.

They concluded that older people in the final stages of dementia often had difficulty accessing palliative care services, despite having significant healthcare needs.

High-quality care for people with end-stage dementia did not appear to have the same priority as care for cancer patients in relation to policy, planning, practice development or training, they said. As a result, the researchers called for ‘urgent improvements’.

‘We believe that clinicians and patient groups caring for patients with advanced dementia need to work together with specialist palliative care providers and health commissioners to develop, fund and evaluate appropriate cost-effective services that meet the needs of both patients and their families,’ said professor Draper.

‘If this is achieved, these improvements have the potential to increase people’s quality of life and reduce the amount of time they spend in acute hospitals,’ she added.

Jonathan Webster, consultant nurse for older people at University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘Dementia hasn’t attracted the attention that other diseases have but it is a complex condition and there are many issues around treatment and management.

‘All nurses working with older people with dementia need to have a core skill set, and palliative care for patients in the advanced stages is a key area that needs to be addressed,’ he added.

A Department of Health strategy on dementia care in England is due to be published this year.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, around 60,000 deaths in the UK a year are directly attributable to dementia.

Journal of Clinical Nursing (2008) 17: 1144–1162

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.