Updated NICE Dementia Quality Standard

NICE quality standards set out the priority areas for quality improvement in health and social care. They cover areas where there is variation in care and each standard gives you a set of statements to help you improve quality and information on how to measure progress. They are developed independently in collaboration with heath and social care professionals and service users and are based on NICE guidance. The topics covered by QS are reviewed and updated periodically.

The latest topic to get an updated QS is dementia or more specifically prevention, assessment, management and health and social care support for people with dementia. There are 7 quality statements of which 6 are updated statements and is brand new.

The new statement is statement 1 – “raising awareness – health promotion interventions“. In essence this encourages us to inform people who access behaviour change interventions in mid-life (adults ages 40-64) are advised that the risk of dementia can be reduced by making lifestyle changes. These changes include smoking cessation, reducing alcohol intake and increasing exercise volume as well as many others.

Clearly this is commonsensical for many but it is amazing how transformational having this QS to reference when creating or updating services can be. NICE guidance and QS is an equitable language between clinicians and commissioners.

One other updated reference which is worth mentioning here before readers head off to the main guidance on the NICE website, is statement 6 – managing distress. The statement is – “People with dementia have a structured assessment before starting non-pharmacological or pharmacological treatment for distress”. This is something worth taking to any setting you work in as too quickly we reach for anti-psychotics and alike to help settle patients with dementia which many not manage the symptoms properly and will cause more harm in the short, medium and long term. We need to adequately assess people for other causes of distress such as pain or discomfort – when was the last time you got hangry? You didn’t reach for the benzo’s then did you? It isn’t always “a progression of their dementia” which causes distress more often than not it is simple and easily fixed causes such as constipation which is why a systematic and structured assessment is essential. The QS reflects just this.