Dementia is the progressive loss of the powers of the brain. The most common kinds are Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia. These diseases damage and kill brain cells, so that the brain cannot work as well as it should. This causes problems with memory, communication and thinking and also sometimes with activities such as handling money and dressing.
Dementia is a major public health issue in Wales. Approximately 42,000 people in Wales have dementia. It is most common among older people - dementia affects one in twenty over the age of 65 and one in five over the age of 80.
As life expectancy increases, there will be more older people and so more people with dementia (Source: Health Challenge Wales “Dementia-How to reduce the risk”).


Policy context

The National Dementia Vision for Wales highlights the support and advice available to anyone diagnosed with dementia.
The National Dementia Plan for Wales Task and Finish Group was established by the Welsh Assembly Government in October 2008 to oversee the development of a national dementia plan for Wales.
The National Dementia Action Plan for Wales is the consultation document prepared by the Task and Finish Group chaired by Ian Thomas Director of The Alzheimer's Society in Wales.
Adult Mental Health Services: Stronger in Partnership 2 is a guide to involving mental health service users and carers in all aspects of designing, planning, developing, delivering, monitoring and evaluating health services in Wales.

What are we doing about dementia?

Key interventions include promoting good mental health, early diagnosis and effective person centred health and social care whether this is provided by statutory, independent, or voluntary sectors.
On the 12 July 2010, the Minister for Health and Social Services announced the action that would be taken to improve dementia services and agreed new funding to support implementation of the Dementia Action Plans.

Service Planning

Local authorities and local health boards are required to formulate and implement a Health, Social Care and Wellbeing Strategy for their local area. These strategies cover a range of activities; from preventative action to improve health and reduce the risk of ill health, through to care services provided by the National Health Service, local authorities and the voluntary and private sector agencies. The strategies are all based on local needs assessments carried out by Public Health Wales. The HSCWB strategies aim to provide local partnership solutions to the local priorities identified but in a national policy context.
  1. Improving service provision through better joint-working across health, social care, the third sector and other agencies;
  2. Improving early diagnosis and ensuring timely interventions;
  3. Improving access to information and support for people and ensuring a greater awareness of advocacy services;
  4. Improving training for those delivering care. 

Service Delivery

Health Promotion Initiatives

The Welsh Government has published a booklet on how to reduce the risk of dementia.
Health Challenge Wales is a national health improvement programme offering advice to individuals and organisations including tips on how to reduce the risk of developing dementia.

The national Book Prescription Wales scheme aims to provide information and support to those with dementia and their carers.


The NHS Direct Wales Health Encyclopedia describes the types of Mental Health Services available and offers a number of useful links to further information resources relevant to Dementia.

The Centre for Mental Health Services Development acts as a national improvement agency, providing service improvement support, information networks, information resources and training. It also undertakes research, education and policy work. It is part of the National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare (NLIAH).



Dementia 2010 published by the Alzheimer’s Research Trust outlines the economic burden of dementia and associated research funding in the United Kingdom.
The Scottish Intercollegiate Guidelines Network(SIGN) have published Management of patients with dementia a National Clinical Guideline on the management of patients with dementia, looking at diagnosis, interventions, information and resources.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has produced guidance for the support and treatment of people with dementia in the NHS and social care services in Wales.
NHS Evidence later life's Alzheimer's Disease and Dementia Annual Evidence Update 2009 aims to provide healthcare professionals with a clear path to the most important recent evidence surrounding the five major types of dementia: Alzheimer’s; Vascular dementia; Dementia with Lewy bodies; Frontotemporal dementia; and Mixed dementias.
To improve the quality of life and care for people with dementia and their care givers the 1000 Lives Plus programme has published the "How to" Guide below:

The Map of Medicine shows you the ideal, evidence-based patient journey for common and important conditions. It is a high-level overview that can be shared by patients and healthcare providers.


The Dementias and Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Network (DENDRON) facilitates research by bringing about focused, effective investment to enhance NHS research infrastructure, and to increase collaborative working between academics, clinicians, patients, carers and research funders
The Wales Dementias and Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Network (NEURODEM Cymru) has been established by The Welsh Assembly Government through the Wales Office for Research & Develoment in health and social care (WORD).
The Clinical Research Collaboration Cymru (CRC Cymru) was established in 2006 by the Wales Office of Research and Development (WORD) to provide dedicated infrastructure to improve the quality, quantity, co-ordination, integration, inclusiveness and speed of health and social care research in Wales.


The Office of National Statistics examines Trends in mortality from Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and dementia, England and Wales, 1979–2004