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Rise in dementia-related deaths highlights important role of nurses

Wednesday 5th October 2016
Nurses have a key role to play in providing support to dementia patients and their loved ones. Image: AlexRaths via iStock
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    The number of people dying from dementia and related causes has increased significantly in the UK over the past few years.

    Public Health England (PHE) has published a new set of reports from the Dementia Intelligence Network (DIN) in association with the National End of Life Care Intelligence Network, which show that 15.8 per cent of all deaths recorded in Britain in 2014 were related to dementia in some way. In contrast, just 6.6 per cent of deaths in 2001 were linked to the degenerative disease.

    Although it is thought this increase may in part be due to growing awareness of the condition and better record-keeping, it is also down to the fact that the baby boomer generation is reaching old age. With a significantly greater number of people living for longer, more patients are likely to be diagnosed with dementia, meaning the role of nurses and the support they can offer to sufferers and their loved ones is arguably more important than ever.

    What's more, the report also showed that people with dementia are more likely to die in care homes or hospitals than in their own home or a specialist end-of-life hospice than those with other illnesses. This indicates that more needs to be done to ensure dementia patients have access to community nurse support and hospices where there are specially-trained nursing staff on hand to communicate with them and provide end-of-life-care.

    Alistair Burns, national clinical director for dementia at NHS England and chair of the PHE DIN leadership group, commented: "High-quality end-of-life-care is a key aspect of the quality of dementia services. This report highlights some important measures of end of life in people with dementia and is helpful in raising the profile of this crucial aspect of dementia care."

    PHE head of clinical epidemiology Professor Julia Verne added that the government hopes the findings of the new report will be used to provide dementia care "in a way that makes the most efficient use of resources and responds to the wishes of dying people and their families".

    Written by James Puckle

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