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Dementia and People with Learning Disabilities

Dementia and People with Learning Disabilities

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Quick Overview

This report is the result of a joint working group of the Learning Disability Faculty of the British Psychological Society and the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Its main purpose is to enable those working in clinical and social care services to improve the quality of life of people with learning disabilities who develop dementia, by providing guidance to inform assessment, diagnosis, treatment and support. The guidance is aimed at clinicians in learning disability and older peoples' mental health services and services for younger people with dementia.

Our main focus has been to highlight the key factors that we consider are the elements of an excellent service, and to help those working in services evaluate how they might help the increasing numbers of people with learning disabilities who are developing dementia given improvements in life-expectancy.



The report has the following aims:

  • to bring together available and relevant evidence-based practice with a consensus of clinical opinion and experience;
  • to provide a framework for good practice and for the development of multi-agency care pathways;
  • to promote effective and timely assessment, diagnosis, and treatment for people with learning disabilities suspected or confirmed as having dementia and to ensure quality support to them and their staff and other carers;
  • to provide guidance for service providers, developers and commissioners;
  • to provide a set of standards of good practice against which service provision can be benchmarked and audited;
  • to promote the development of comprehensive and effective local services and to reduce the number of individuals who are failed by current service provision;
  • to provide a framework for training health and social care professionals and paid support staff and carers; and
  • to guide the future development of services.


  • Members of the working group
  • Acknowledgements 
  • Foreword 
  • Purpose of this report 
  • Section 1: Context 
  • Section 2: Epidemiology 
  • Section 3: Baseline and monitoring 
  • Section 4: Possible reasons for apparent decline in functioning 
  • Section 5: Clinical presentation of dementia 
  • Section 6: Assessment 
  • Section 7: Decision making/telling people 
  • Section 8: Additional health/clinical issues associated with dementia 
  • Section 9: Conceptual understanding of the dementia process 
  • Section 10: Philosophy of care 
  • Section 11: Environments 
  • Section 12: Meeting changing needs/interventions 
  • Section 13: Medications 
  • Section 14: End of life issues 
  • Section 15: Capable commissioning for people with learning disabilities and dementia
  • Section 16: Capable workforce
  • Section 17: References
  • Appendix: Good Practice Standards - self assessment checklist

Additional Information