Emotional impact of learning disability and dementia

April 20, 2017

The link between learning disability and dementia is becoming increasingly understood, with the topic of dementia, in particular gaining mounting coverage in the media in recent months.

However, these conversations are only throwing light onto an issue that MacIntyre says needs more attention in order for better care and support to be given to people with a learning disability and dementia, or those who are at risk of developing dementia.

It starts with understanding both the emotional impact of the diagnosis and subsequent care, and the challenges being faced; not just by those with a learning disability and dementia, but for the staff caring for them.

From noticing changes in behaviour, to the challenge of receiving a diagnosis and providing the care that follows, it’s a road that not many staff have travelled down before.

One of the key aims of the MacIntyre Dementia Project is to train professionals to provide better care for people with a learning disability living with or at risk of developing dementia. In line with this, MacIntyre spoke to one of its Registered Managers, Sarah Lancaster, who works at one of its services in Milton Keynes, about her experience of supporting someone with a learning disability and dementia and the emotional impacts she faced with her staff team.

In the six-part series, Sarah discusses the central issues of understanding the emotional impact of a dementia diagnosis on the person, on staff, as well as on family, friends and other relationships and how staff can prepare for the future. The series include:

  • Experiences of supporting people with learning disabilities and dementia.
  • Emotional impact of dementia diagnosis on the person with a learning disability.
  • Impact of dementia diagnosis on staff and how to support them.
  • Helping staff to prepare for the future when supporting someone with dementia.
  • Impact of dementia on friends, flatmates and other relationships.
  • General advice for Registered Managers on supporting people with learning disabilities and dementia.

In the first video, Experience of Supporting People with Learning Disabilities and Dementia, Sarah introduces Alison’s story and explains the challenges the staff team went through to get the diagnosis, and some of the experiences they have been through since. The rest of the videos in the series will be released in the coming weeks.

In January, a number of voluntary sector organisations launched a report highlighting the importance of developing dementia-friendly care and support for people with a learning disability.

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