Update on Learning Disability and Dementia

I was chuffed recently to discover that people read and appreciate my blogs on this site – so I’m inspired to do an update of a subject I spoke about in July. The fact is that people with learning disabilities are living longer but sadly many are developing dementia as they age – as many as 54 per cent of people with Downs aged 60-65 have dementia. So I started asking questions about social care and health preparations for this “new” client group.

What is best practice for providing care and support ? Who is leading the way and how can I get information so that we can train staff and develop good services? Here are two of the responses:

“I don’t think it will be a problem really, as the dementia probably isn’t so significant for people who already have a learning disability, and anyway they already have experienced care workers who are able to respond to their changing needs.”

“I don’t know of anyone who has an idea of what is good practice, but we are trying to provide good services for this group already, and we’re struggling. Please tell us if you find a source of information and experience.”

So I asked a couple of commissioners and they had no plans for specialist services. I asked a health colleague and they thought this group of “patients” would remain in learning disability services rather than transferring to older peoples services (where there is less money per person). But others were not so sure – we all have to save money you know and those services are expensive.

I’m not much further forward, but I do have more idea of what questions to ask. Any feedback, especially if you know the answers about good practice(!) will be very welcome.

Brenda Bond

Hi, I'm Brenda, previously Chief Executive of Age Concern Lewisham and Southwark (ACLS) and now carrying out a 6 month research and development project for the organisation. I have a childcare and nursing background plus too many years to mention in Age Concerns in the North East and in London. I'm a trustee of Age UK London and represent ACLS and the voluntary sector on various local fora. I'm interested in health and social care issues, human rights and social justice.

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