Editorials

Specialist palliative care in dementia

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.330.7482.57 (Published 06 January 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:57
  1. Julian C Hughes, consultant in old age psychiatry ([email protected]),
  2. Louise Robinson, clinical senior lecturer in dementia and ageing research,
  3. Ladislav Volicer, courtesy full professor
  1. North Tyneside General Hospital, Rake Lane, North Shields, Tyne and Wear NE29 8NH
  2. Centre for Health Services Research, 21 Claremont Place, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4AA
  3. School of Aging Studies, University of South Florida, 4202 E Fowler Ave, MHC 1342, Tampa, FL 33620, USA

    Specialised units with outreach and liaison are needed

    In its latest report on palliative care, the health committee of the House of Commons recorded the Department of Health's admission that the lack of palliative care for patients without cancer was the greatest inequity of all.1 In the United Kingdom, people die in hospices almost solely from cancer, although it accounts for only 25% of all deaths.1 w1 Yet patients dying from dementia have been shown to have healthcare needs comparable to those of cancer patients.2

    The palliative care approach provides appropriate control of symptoms, emphasises overall quality of life, takes a holistic approach, involves the patient and the family in decisions, and fosters good supportive communication between all concerned.w2 Hence, it equates to person centred care in dementia.w3 w4 Evidence suggests a palliative care approach in dementia is favoured by formal and informal carers.3 The wishes of patients themselves, however, are hardly known—although preliminary results show high rates of satisfaction …

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