The recommendation comes in NICE’s updated quality standard on dementia published today (28 June 2019).
It says people living with dementia and people involved in their care should be given the opportunity to talk about their life experiences, preferences, interests, strengths with a healthcare professional. This can help the person living with dementia to choose activities to promote wellbeing that suit their preferences and needs.
Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE, said: “People with dementia can find it harder to take part in activities, to engage socially, to maintain their independence, to communicate effectively, to feel in control and to care for themselves. Providing enjoyable and health-enhancing activities like music or reminiscence therapy can help with this.
“Understanding the activities that a person prefers and thinks are suitable and helpful, and adapting them to their strengths and needs, will make a person more likely to engage with the activities offered and therefore more likely to benefit from them.”
The quality standard highlights the need to offer carers of people living with dementia education and skills training. This could include education about dementia, its symptoms and the changes to expect as the condition progresses. Skills training could include personalised strategies to help them provide care, including how to understand and respond to changes in behaviour.
It also recognises the importance of providing informal carers with the support they need to enable them to manage the stresses and demands of caregiving and to fulfil their role.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “As a society there’s so much more we can do to help people live well with dementia. Whether it’s joining a choir, gardening or enjoying art classes, so many activities can help people live better and can trigger precious memories and help reconnect them with their communities.
"So I wholeheartedly endorse this quality standard, which supports the ambitions of our NHS Long Term Plan and its move to a more personalised and person-centred care.”
Dementia is an umbrella term for a range of progressive conditions that affect the brain, of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common. According to the Alzheimer’s Society the number of people aged 65 and over in England with dementia is estimated to be 645,000, and this is set to double in the next 30 years. Around 1 in 6 people aged over 80 and 70 per cent of people in care homes have dementia or severe memory problems.