Back to information hub

Improving dementia services in England through improved awareness

‘Living well with dementia – a National Dementia Strategy’ (2009) outlines the priorities for improving dementia services in England, focusing on achieving better awareness of dementia, early diagnosis and high quality treatment for every person in every setting.

Skills for Health is proud to be one of a large number of public, private and voluntary sector organisations to have signed the National Dementia Declaration for England

What this means for the workforce

The development of the health and social care workforce will be crucial to achieving better outcomes for people with dementia and their families. Skills for Health and Skills for Care have scoped the education and training needs of the workforce and developed an action plan for education and training that supports the national (England) dementia strategy.

Workforce Mapping Exercise – Final Scoping Report

Common Core Principles for Supporting People with Dementia – a good practice guide for the wider workforce

The person with dementia needs support that encourages continued independence and enables them to enjoy life, with family, friends and carers learning to adapt to their emerging needs. The quality of the wider workforce is critical to improving the experience of the person with dementia.

The Common Core Principles for Supporting People with Dementia provides guidance for everyone working in health or social care. The principles will enhance workers’ skills and confidence in adapting their actions and communication in order to respond appropriately to the person with dementia.

The principles are based on current policy and information provided by people who use services, and by practitioners in different health and social care settings. They therefore provide a framework for learning and development and form the foundation for good practice in any setting.

A partnership approach to support local dementia care

In collaboration with local partners, Skills for Health has tailored the Common Core Principles for supporting people with dementia to meet the challenge of caring for East Anglia’s elderly population. Norfolk & Suffolk Dementia Alliance was involved in finalising the national core principles, which provide a foundation for good practice and support learning and development. Skills for Heath and the Alliance have since consulted with a wide range of local groups and individuals to add two further core principles; identify skills needs and prioritise training for healthcare professionals and the wider population.

The partnership will address the gap between the Alliance’s vision for dementia care and the current status. The work has already highlighted a lack of understanding that will now be tackled through a regional awareness-raising campaign.

Ten Dementia Core Principles adapted for Norfolk and Suffolk in consultation with local Stakeholders and the Norfolk & Suffolk Dementia Alliance

  1. Remember the person. The person comes before the task.
  2. Communicate sensitively to support meaningful interaction.
  3. Promote independence and encourage activity. Provide care interactions that meet the needs and abilities of the person with dementia.
  4. Family members and other carers are valued, respected and supported just like those they care for.
  5. Understand the behaviours. Recognise the signs of distress resulting from confusion and respond by diffusing individuals’ anxiety and support their understanding of the events they experience.
  6. Work as part of a multi-agency team to support the person with dementia.
  7. Managers need to take responsibility to ensure members of their team are trained and well supported to meet the needs of individuals with dementia.
  8. Know the characteristics of dementia and understand the experience of the person with dementia.
  9. Early diagnosis of dementia helps people receive information, support and treatment at the earliest possible stage.
  10. Know the early signs of dementia.


Organisations can embed these principles in their policies, their agreements with other agencies, and their own culture and practices. They can be implemented through service delivery, appraisal, supervision, and training and development planning.

Want to improve your skills and knowledge about dementia and related support? Find out more about Skills for Health’s Dementia Awareness eLearning, which meets the requirements of the ‘Awareness of Mental Health, Dementia & Learning Disabilities’ standard within the Care Certificate.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Skills for Health has developed a range of proven products and services to help you develop a more skilled and flexible workforce. If you can’t find the solutions you are looking for here, try browsing the website, using the search function, or get in touch today.

Some policies, strategies and guidance were developed under the previous government.

Further resources