Post-diagnostic support for people with dementia and their carers is a crucial element of dementia care, not only to improve the quality of life of people with dementia and their carer’s, but also to increase their independence and reduce the likelihood of them going into hospital or residential care. This was recognised in the National Dementia Strategy and more recently in the development of the Prime Minister’s challenge on dementia.
The Strategy contained specific recommendations on the appointment of dementia advisers and the establishment of structured peer support networks. In response to these recommendations, 40 demonstrator sites were funded by the Department to assess the effectiveness of dementia advisers and peer support networks in providing good quality post-diagnostic care.
The evaluation carried out by Professor Charlotte Clarke provides positive evidence on the value of these services. In particular, it demonstrates:
- The positive impact of dementia advisers and peer support networks on the wellbeing and quality of life of people with dementia and carers. People with dementia and their carer’s were both very positive about the benefits of having a dementia adviser to provide them with guidance, and of peer support networks in linking them to people who were in the same position;
- Both initiatives had resource saving implications for the local health and social care economy;
- They played a key role in raising awareness of dementia and tackling stigma.
We recommend that all providers of local dementia services take careful account of these findings in developing their plans for post-diagnostic support in future.