Commissioners have a key role in improving experience and care

Get ideas for learning from people with dementia, and carers, when commissioning services for those people. 

Improving experience of care, and patient outcomes, are priorities for health and social care services. 

'It is important that the commissioning landscape that underpins the health and social care system in 2020 is characterised as much by the ability to personalise and shape care and support in response to individual needs and preferences, as it is by place-based approaches and new models of care.' (Integrated Personal Commissioning: Emerging Framework, 2016).

Opportunities to learn from the experience of people with dementia to benefit all stages of the commissioning cycle

  • Developing a vision and strategy: find out the needs of people with dementia, and carers, how well they are met, any gaps, areas and ideas for improvement they perceive to achieve community health aspirations. 
  • Setting priorities: learn what matters to them, from people with dementia, and carers, especially with a range of ages and stages of dementia. Use this to inform decision-making.
  • Planning delivery: work with people with dementia, their carers and families, and actual/potential service providers to define how services are provided, including service and care pathway design, and identifying potential local service providers. 
  • Managing quality and performance: learn what a quality service looks like from the perspective of those using it, The experience of people with dementia, and carers, provides a rich picture, going beyond what can be learned from other data
    • to identify barriers to service provision being timely and effective
    • to provide evidence of services no longer required
    • to identify inequality of access to services and treatment
    • to highlight unconscious and institutionalised bias.

This applies across many types of service as people with dementia may often be using services that are not dementia specialist services. 

Adopt a systematic approach 

  • Embed learning from the experience of people with dementia into organisational processes:
    • corporate knowledge management systems: to receive and store data
    • ways to dive into the data and analyse content to identify patterns in people's experiences, needs and wants.
    • development of meaningfully-constructed insights:  persona, empathy maps and mapping service user journeys can be built from disparate sources of data about individual experiences.
  • Use the findings to action plan, to identify and implement improvements and solutions.
  • Tell people: tell people what's been done with what was learned about their experiences. 

Some ways of involving people with dementia

Developing services/resources: video about helping commissioners to develop a handbook and care services in Gloucestershire:


Ideas for new contracts and services: marketing engagement events: Invite people living with dementia as well as other people with an interest in the proposed contracts, to give feedback, share their experience and ideas to inform contract development.

Contract monitoring and evaluation:  consider evaluating experience of current service users through facilitation by people not part of the  contracted service, including people affected by dementia.

Taking part in tender process: Question-setting and marking – while overall the amount of paperwork and technical details may not be dementia-friendly, people living with dementia may be able to suggest questions that are important to them, to ask those questions and/or to score those questions.