Dementia overview

The term dementia is used to describe a collection of symptoms, including a decline in memory, reasoning and communication skills. It may result in communication problems for the person with dementia and with their carers as well as eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties. 

Key points:

  • Individuals with dementia need access to speech and language therapy services. Commissioners, decision makers and service providers, who are aware of the needs of their local population, can ensure there is access to speech and language therapy services to meet those needs.

  • Speech and language therapy services provide equal access to intervention for communication and for swallowing disorders.

  • It is important that speech and language therapy services are adequately resourced to provide quality care for people with dementia.

  • Speech and language therapy services for people with dementia are provided within an integrated multidisciplinary context to ensure the philosophy and goals of intervention are shared and consistent.

  • "Cost per case" arrangements or service level agreements with minimal levels of provision for SLT are unlikely to provide a service of the quality and expertise that people with dementia require.

  • Communication and swallowing are the responsibility of the whole team – the role of the speech and language therapist is to empower and educate others as well as providing direct specialist input as appropriate.

  • Early speech and language therapy intervention is crucial so that people with dementia and their carers have their needs met in a timely way.

  For more information read our Dementia factsheet.

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