Introducing a Dementia Support Service

NHS England| July 2018 | The Atlas of Shared Learning

NHS England have released a case study highlighting the work of mental health nurses in Somerset, who have established a new community-based Intensive Dementia Support Service (IDSS). It has had a significant positive impact on patients, carers and colleagues – providing interventions at point of crisis in the person’s usual place of residency, with the aim of reducing admissions to an older person’s mental health ward.


The full case study details are at NHS England

Watching classic football matches is beneficial to people with dementia, says NHS England Clinical Director

NHS England | July 2018 | Watching England at the world cup ‘good for your nerves’ claims NHS doctor

Senior NHS doctor NHS England Clinical Director for Dementia, Alistair Burns, has recently highlighted the benefits of watching football to our well-being. He said: “although fans may not feel it this week, football can be good for your nerves.  The beautiful game really can help your mind and body.” 

The NHS director emphasises that this is particularly true for older people as there are clear benefits from watching classic football matches like England’s 1966 world cup final victory, including keeping the brain active and stimulating memories.  “There is a positive link between watching classic football matches and keeping the mind active. For people in old age and dealing with dementia, rewatching matches can rekindle past memories, connect people with their past and keep the brain active.”

Several members of the nation’s golden generation of 1966 have experienced dementia, with winners Nobby Stiles and Martin Peters currently living with the condition. He is encouraging older people, particularly anyone with dementia, to watch replays of sporting events as a way of improving mental health and well-being.


According to the Clinical Director for Dementia, the power of sport can stimulate emotion which can be revived many years after the event. Emotional memory, which is one of two main types of memory in the human brain, can be more powerful than memory for personal events, so as people in later life relive exciting or tense moments, this can stimulate memories, potentially strengthening brain activity.

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK said: “Sport means a lot to many people in our society & that doesn’t have to change as we age. Whether it’s playing walking football or engaging in a more traditional activity such as bowls or swimming, there are lots of ways in which older people can continue to be ‘sporty’ – doing themselves no end of mental and physical good as a result.” (Source: NHS England)

The full,unedited news item can be read at NHS England 

Tackling loneliness

The government is asking organisations with expertise and experience in tackling loneliness to provide views on the strategy framework being developed. It is believed that factors contributing to loneliness include disability, ill health and caring responsibilities. The closing date for comments is 20 July 2018.


The Government’s Loneliness Strategy will be its first step in tackling the long-term challenge of loneliness. Loneliness is a complex issue that affects many different groups of people, and its evidence base is still developing. The current evidence base tends to measure loneliness in terms of frequency, and it shows that people who feel lonely most or all of the time are more likely to suffer ill health.

In addition, people who feel lonely more often can become more sensitive to perceived threats and withdraw further, creating a vicious cycle. As a result, the stratgey will look at approaches that reduce the risk, prevent loneliness or that intervene early, before loneliness becomes entrenched.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) recently analysed how individual circumstances and characteristics contribute to the likelihood of experiencing loneliness, holding all else equal. The ONS found that the following were significant factors:

  • age – younger people (16-24) were significantly more likely to report feeling lonely
  • gender – women were more likely to report feeling lonely
  • marital status – widowed people were more likely to report feeling lonely
  • disability and ill-health (self-reported) – those reporting were more likely to feel lonely
  • number of adults in the household – those living alone were more likely to report feeling lonely
  • caring responsibilities – those caring were more likely to report feeling lonely
  • neighbourhood connectedness – those who do not chat to neighbours more than to say hello, or do not feel as though they belong to or satisfied with their neighbourhood were more likely to report feeling lonely
  • how often you meet up in person with family members or friends – those who met up once a month or less were more likely to feel lonely

Read more about the Government’s Loneliness Strategy


Therapeutic Lies in Dementia Care: Should Psychologists Teach Others to be Person-Centred Liars?



Therapeutic lies are frequently used communication strategies, often employed when the person with dementia does not share the same reality as the carer. Their use is complex and controversial, and a number of protocols have been produced to guide their usage (Mental Health Foundation, 2016).


The study examined clinicians’ perspective on using therapeutic lies in their daily practice and their roles in encouraging the proper use of such a communication strategy. Method: This project sampled the views of clinicians, mainly psychologists, before and after attending a workshop on communication in dementia care; they were asked whether psychologists should have a role in teaching others to lie more effectively.

Results: It was found that following a comprehensive discussion on the use of lies, the clinicians recognized they lied more than they had originally thought, and were also significantly more supportive of having a role in teaching others to lie effectively.

Conclusions: Clinicians, mainly psychologists, increased their support in the use of therapeutic lying. They considered others would benefit from the psychologists giving supervision in how to lie effectively.

Full reference: James, I., & Caiazza, R. | Therapeutic Lies in Dementia Care: Should Psychologists Teach Others to be Person-Centred Liars? | Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy | Volume 46(4) | July 2018 | p454-462

See also:

Updated NICE guidance

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have updated their guidance on the management and support of dementia.  This is the first time the guideline has been updated in 10 years, and acts as a reference for best practice for all those working in the health and social care field, including GPs, and social workers.

A NICE spokesman said the key changes are the recommendations around training staff correctly and those to help carers to better support people living with dementia.

It also recommends providing people living with dementia with a single named health or social care professional who is responsible for coordinating their care.

The updated guidance also recommends that the initial assessment includes taking a history (including cognitive, behavioural and psychological symptoms, and the impact symptoms have on their daily life) from the person with suspected dementia, and if possible, from someone who knows the person well.

Full guideline: Dementia: assessment, management and support for people living with dementia and their carers (NG97)

See also: New NICE guidelines recommend telling people about dementia research opportunities


Dementia risk now included as part of NHS Health Check

Healthcare professionals in GP surgeries and the community will soon give advice on dementia risk to patients as part of the NHS Health Check.


Adding the dementia element to the NHS Health Check programme will enable healthcare professionals to talk to their patients about how they can reduce their dementia risk, such as by maintaining their social life, keeping mentally and physically active and stopping smoking.

It is estimated that over 850,000 people are living with dementia in the UK with little public understanding of how it’s possible to reduce the risk. While much of the NHS Health Check focuses on reducing cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, the advice for preventing CVD is much the same as for dementia: ‘what’s good for the heart is good for the brain’.

Full story at Public Health England

Meeting the needs of people with dementia and learning disabilities

This guide is part of a series of guides looking at reasonable adjustments in a specific service area | Public Health England

It is intended to help staff in public health, health services and social care to ensure that their services are accessible to people with learning disabilities who may have, or be developing, dementia. The guide can also be of use to family and friends of people with learning disabilities.

Full guidance: Dementia and people with learning disabilities: making reasonable  adjustments