Physiotherapy, an essential part of dementia care

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have published a new quality standard which aims to support people to live well with dementia.  The aim behind the standard (QS30) is that “a person-centred and integrated approach to providing care and services is fundamental to delivering high-quality care for people with dementia.”

In addition to acknowledging the importance of carers in the treatment of those with dementia the standard also looks at every aspect of a dementia sufferer’s care including leisure, health and relationships.  The standard also highlights the need for individual choice and control to be at the forefront of any programme especially when planning and evaluating services.

One element of the standard also looks at the importance of those with dementia and their carers being able to access “services that help maintain their physical and mental health and wellbeing.”  Whilst some of these services naturally include access to general practices and nurses, the list also includes care services such as hearing therapists, chiropodists and physiotherapists.

The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) contributed to the development of the dementia standard with particular advice being sought from the network of physiotherapists who work with older people (Agile)*.  In commenting on the standard Agile chair, Janet Thomas, said “The dementia guidance we saw certainly had a different feel to other NICE guidance, with the emphasis shifted to the day-to-day living aspect of dementia care, and this is very important.”

With a growing body of evidence supporting the theory that “a healthy mind in a healthy body” is not just a saying but a vital component of wellbeing in later life, there is certainly something to be said for helping dementia sufferers to stay as active as possible.  Hopefully this means that those involved in physiotherapy and other related services will see a greater call on their time as they work with carers and those with dementia to help to provide an integrated holistic management programme.

Taking steps to reduce administration time, such as by managing diaries and storing patient records electronically, will help to maximise treatment time and hopefully enable physiotherapists to take their place at the forefront of this new approach to care.


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