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More help needed for people with learning disability and dementia

People with learning disability five times more likely to develop dementia

Mark Gould

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

A partnership of voluntary sector organisations has today launched a new report* calling for the needs of people with learning disabilities, who have also developed dementia, to be better addressed.

People with learning disabilities are five times more likely than those in the general population to develop dementia, according to the largest ever study** into the health and care of people with learning disabilities, by NHS Digital, published in December.

In 2010, then Prime Minister David Cameron launched his "challenge on dementia 2020" which sets out a series of commitments that aim to make England the world leader in dementia care, research and awareness. Yet, despite this, the new report says there is a need to improve policy, planning and research in relation to people with learning disabilities and dementia.

The report focuses on how best to support the growing numbers of people with the condition and on how to involve people with learning disability and dementia in research to improve care and treatments. The publication is based on recent work with care providers aiming to improve the quality of life of people with a learning disability and dementia, and the challenges to this goal.

The report has been compiled in partnership with the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG), Alzheimer’s Society, Foundation for People with Learning Disabilities, MacIntyre and the National Care Forum (NCF).

Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes CBE said: “Alzheimer’s Society is pleased to have supported the work of the VODG in developing dementia friendly care and support for people with learning disabilities.

"We know that a timely diagnosis is essential for anyone who has dementia. For people with a learning disability, who are at higher risk of developing dementia at a much younger age, there is an even greater need and services have a responsibility to develop their knowledge and awareness of dementia to ensure they can recognise it, diagnose it and put in place the support and services that people with learning disabilities and their families have a right to expect in order to help them live well.”

* Staying put: developing dementia-friendly care and support for people with a learning disability. Voluntary Organisations Disability Group, 2017

** Health and Care of People with Learning Disabilities: Experimental Statistics: 2014 to 2015. NHS Digital, December 2016

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