A Society that Embraces Dementia

News & Updates
9th October 2013

Kate Swaffer’s moving blog reinforces just how important current efforts are in improving the outlook for people with dementia. The numbers are expected to double over the next 20 years, so unless a cure is imminent then it has to be about preparing future generations to live with the impact.

Nearly 25 years ago my first Charge Nurse post was in a unit for people with cognitive impairment (mainly dementia). As the clinical leader I was in a position to challenge the traditional model of care. Culture change, as we know, is never easy but by introducing new practices and modelling different behaviours, persistence paid off. We eventually reached a tipping point where everyone began to pull together to create a new norm.

This new cultural norm meant working in partnership with patients and their relatives to create a ‘circle of care’ that was as inclusive and enabling as possible within the constraints of a hospital environment. I look back on my time there as a sculptress might view a creation that she considers to be among her best work. Against this backdrop I was delighted to be asked to support the Scottish Government with the National Dementia Care Improvement Programme (NDCIP).

My work as a Charge Nurse was with people who required continuous hospital care but the NDCIP is about improving care for people earlier in their experience with dementia. The scale is vastly different. It aims to create whole communities that understand what it means to live with dementia and are compassionate in their support. It is about providing safe but non-restrictive environments where people can live their life, limiting the impact of dementia for as long as possible.

The National Dementia Strategy is challenging Scotland to create a society that embraces dementia, and Alzhiemers Scotland is lighting the way through their ‘5 and 8 Pillars Models’. Whether professional or lay person we all have a part to play. It’s within our gift to create a more accepting and enabling future for people with dementia.


Other posts of interest: