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Understanding psychological dimensions of dementia can improve care, says new report

14 November 2016

To help people live well with dementia we need a better understanding of its psychological impact, according to a new British Psychological Society (BPS) report published today.

To help people live well with dementia we need a better understanding of its psychological impact, according to a new British Psychological Society report published today.

Psychological dimensions of dementia: Putting the person at the centre of care, places new emphasis on how dementia affects a person’s sense of identity, how they think and behave, their mood, and their personal relationships, concluding that improving people’s experience of dementia means also improving the support they receive to process how they feel and how they understand the condition, their future and their relationships. 

Dr Linda Clare, of the University of Exeter and Chair of the BPS Dementia Advisory Group, said:

“Maintaining a sense of control, identity and connection is a key focus as dementia progresses. Without it there is a risk that the person will experience a sense of isolation and dislocation at a time when the resources to protect against this threat are lacking. That’s why we say putting the person at the centre of care is vital to help people to live well with dementia.”

The report, which can be accessed here, highlights a number of areas where action is needed to improve understanding and care, and makes a number of recommendations for commissioning services. 

The recommendations include:

  • People with dementia should be supported in making their own decisions as far as possible.  
  • Care and treatment should be individually tailored to each person’s needs and circumstances.
  • Dementia care plans must cover all the person’s needs, including equal access to the right healthcare for other mental or physical health needs. 
  • Families and carers should be included in care planning at all times and have access to psychological support.

Dr Clare continued:

“The rights of people with dementia must be respected.  We need to ensure their active and meaningful involvement in decisions about their own lives and in planning and evaluating the services they receive.” 

Psychological dimensions of dementia: Putting the person at the centre of care was developed by the BPS Dementia Advisory Group. The group consists of of psychological experts in dementia, both practitioners and academics, and a retired clinical psychologist with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

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