Breaking bad news to people with learning disabilities and dementia
Intended for healthcare professionals
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Breaking bad news to people with learning disabilities and dementia

Irene Tuffrey-Wijne Associate professor in nursing, St George’s, University of London and the Kingston University Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, London
Karen Watchman Alzheimer Scotland senior lecturer in Dementia, Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice, University of the West of Scotland, Glasgow

Irene Tuffrey-Wijne and Karen Watchman provide guidance on communication informed by knowledge of the person’s understanding and capabilities

People with learning disabilities are now enjoying a longer life expectancy than ever before as a result of enhanced medical and social interventions and improved quality of life. Some, particularly individuals with Down’s syndrome, are susceptible to dementia at a significantly younger age than the average age of onset in the rest of the population. Currently, there is limited guidance on how to talk to people with learning disabilities about dementia and, until such information is shared, individuals cannot be positioned as an authority on their own condition. The new model presented here suggests a way of supporting staff and families to have enabling conversations about dementia that centre on the person’s current situation, level of understanding and capacity.

Learning Disability Practice. 18, 7, 16-23. doi: 10.7748/ldp.18.7.16.e1672


Peer review

This article has been subject to double-blind review and has been checked using antiplagiarism software

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 08 June 2015

Accepted: 02 July 2015

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