Intended for healthcare professionals


The challenge of looking after people with dementia

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 25 August 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:410

Professional carers need higher expectations and better training and support

  1. Mary Marshall, professor
  1. Dementia Services Development Centre, University of Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA

    Papers p 426

    Many people with dementia end up being looked after in nursing homes and long stay wards. A study in this week's BMJ shows that the quality of life for this very vulnerable section of our community may be unacceptable. Ballard et al found that none of 484 people with dementia living in nursing homes or hospital wards were experiencing what they refer to as a “fair standard of care” (p 426).1 This state of affairs raises a host of issues—about regulation, expectations, and staffing.

    The authors draw attention to perhaps the main one, the fact that the current systems of quality control are inadequate. In the case of independent nursing homes these are the registration and inspection teams. There is no parallel for long stay hospital wards in the NHS except the Scottish and English Health Advisory Services. In all parts of the United Kingdom the systems for registering and inspecting nursing and residential homes are going through a major overhaul, with national bodies being established to monitor and improve standards against a nationally agreed set of criteria. The aim is to make the process more …

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