Learning Disability Today
Supporting professionals working in learning disability and autism services

New care home guidance to better support people with a learning disability and dementia

The Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) has developed new guidance to ensure care homes provide the right support for people with a learning disability and dementia.

The guidance, which is thought to be the first of its kind, focuses on people with a learning disability and advancing dementia who can no longer be cared for in their own home due to increased needs.

It was developed after the Scottish government recognised that care homes are often reluctant to take on learning disabled people with dementia due to uncertainty about their needs.

Half of people with Down’s syndrome will receive a dementia diagnosis in their 60s

People with learning disabilities are more likely to experience early-onset dementia (when dementia that first occurs in a person under the age of 65).

Indeed, around 13% of people with a learning disability in the 60 to 65-year-old age group will be diagnosed with dementia compared with just 1% of the general population.

People with Down’s syndrome appear to be particularly at risk, with around half (50%) of this group receiving a dementia diagnosis in their 60s.

Now that people with learning disabilities are living longer, they will be more likely to develop illnesses like dementia. With this, the demand for care home support will increase.

It is therefore more important than ever that care homes are equipped with the knowledge and skills to care for learning disabled people with dementia.

Laura Porter is Interim Service Manager for Learning Disability at Inverclyde Health and Social Care Partnership says she hopes the guidance will “reassure” families and care home staff that if they accept a placement for someone with learning disabilities, there will be support available.”

Ensuring care home staff are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills

Kevin Stewart, Scottish Government’s Minister for Social Care, said: “We understand how challenging it can be for people with a learning disability and a diagnosis of dementia to change their living arrangements.

“This new guidance will not only improve the services people receive, but will give staff improved information to support them to continue to deliver exceptional care across the country.

“Scotland has a track record in supporting people living with dementia, as shown by our world leading commitment to provide immediate support in the first year after people receive a diagnosis and our National Conversation events to give those living with dementia, their families and carers the opportunity to shape the help available.”

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