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Making reasonable adjustments to dementia services for people with learning disabilities.

Posted: 30/09/13

Under English laws about equalities, public sector organisations have to tailor the way they provide care so that disabled people are not at a disadvantage. This may mean making physical adjustments to buildings such as providing lifts, wide doors and ramps. Importantly, it also means making whatever alterations are necessary to policies, procedures, staff training and service delivery to ensure that they work equally well for people with learning disabilities. As far as possible, public sector organisations have to think about what might be needed in advance, not wait until people get into difficulties or ask for help. Training staff about what people with learning disabilities are likely to need is a good start. 

Dementia in people with learning disabilities is becoming more common. This is because: 1. Dementia becomes more common as people get older and people with learning disabilities are living longer. 2. People with a learning disability are five times more likely to develop dementia as they get older compared to the general population.38 3. People with Down's syndrome have a specific additional risk of developing dementia. For them, this often happens at ages from 35 to 45 onwards.40 The growing number of people living with both a learning disability and dementia means that commissioners and providers need to plan to ensure the right support is available in sufficient quantities. Some people with learning disabilities begin to develop dementia while still living with family carers. They may also need support. 

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