Quality of care for people with dementia

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.323.7326.1427 (Published 15 December 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:1427

Change in attitude is needed

  1. Joan Scott, higher professional fellow (joani.scott@btinternet.com)
  1. Department of General Practice, Glasgow G12 0RR
  2. Oxfordshire Mental Healthcare NHS Trust, Littlemore Hospital, Oxford OX4 4XN
  3. Kent Institute of Medical Sciences, Folkestone Health Centre, Folkestone, Kent CT20 1JY
  4. BUPA Care Services, Horsforth, Leeds LS18 4UP

    EDITOR—Are readers surprised by Ballard et al's findings that nursing homes are failing the needs of patients with dementia?1 Probably not, especially if they spend any time in nursing homes either as a healthcare professional or as a relative or friend.

    Ballard et al's conclusion that strategies to improve joint working between the agencies to provide integrated specialist services sounds good, but surely it's the day to day care that's failing people with dementia. Of course they need specialised services, but they need compassion, an understanding of their needs, appropriate activities, and human interaction. These things need time and a special kind of staff who enjoy working with elderly people with challenging problems.

    Until relatively recently we were also failing children with severe learning disabilities. Now we understand these children's needs and rights to education, choice, and social interaction. People who work with these children are highly regarded in our society, if not well financially remunerated. It seems to me that until we start to apply the same ethos of care to our elderly people that we apply to our ill and disabled children we will continue to fail them. We must always remember that one day it may be us …

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