Dementia in the workplace
Lead Investigator: Professor Pauline Banks
Institution: University of the West of Scotland
Grant type: Project grant
Duration: 24 months
Start Date: 26/08/2013
Completion Date: 25/08/2015
Scientific Title: Dementia in the workplace: the potential for continued employment post diagnosis.
What was the project, and what did the researchers do?
Many people retire when they are given a dementia diagnosis, although some may have preferred to continue working. As dementia diagnosis rates improve and retirement age increases, more people may be affected by dementia in workplaces in years to come. There has so far been little research into how to support people with dementia whilst they are still at work.
The researchers were interested in the experiences people had if they were diagnosed while still in work. They looked at why people retired and how their workplace did or did not support them if they stayed in work.
The researchers collected information from many groups of people. They spoke to policy makers along with experts in dementia care and health in the workplace about how people living with dementia could be supported at work. They also spoke to people between the ages of 50 and 69 who were diagnosed with dementia or mild cognitive impairment while still at work about how the diagnosis affected their working life. They interviewed close friends or family and colleagues of people living with dementia about what it is like to work with someone affected by dementia.
What were the key results, and how will this help in the fight against dementia?
Many of the people interviewed who were living with dementia said that they wanted to stay at work. For some, work provided important financial benefits that they struggled without. The researchers found that going to work prevented people from dementia from feeling isolated. Some of the people in the study said work was important because they felt better when they were busy and had things to do.
The team found that although colleagues wanted to help people affected by dementia at work, they often did not know how.
Interviews with experts revealed that there were many possible ways that workplaces could support people with dementia. For example, it was suggested that there could be decreased workload, flexibility to work from home, and quiet work spaces in the workplace. However, in some cases it was not appropriate for someone affected by dementia to stay at work.
These results show that it is important to find ways for people with dementia to be supported in continuing to work where possible. It also highlights that there should be greater awareness of dementia issues in the workplace, and training for colleagues of people living with dementia. Better support to stay in the workplace could be an important part of improving the lives of people newly diagnosed with dementia.
What happened next? Future work and additional grants
The team are applying for further funding to raise awareness of the issues surrounding employment of people with dementia. They are also planning future research into workplace interventions to support employees with dementia.
How were people told about the results? Conferences and publications
Ritchie, L., Banks, P., Danson, M. and Tolson, D. (2015) Dementia in the Workplace: a review. Journal of Public Mental Health
Danson, M., Ritchie, L. Banks, P. and Tolson, D. Ageing, health and employability in urban labour markets (under review)
Working title - 'Dementia in the Workplace: The potential for continued employment post diagnosis' – paper reporting on findings from case studies.
Working title - 'Age matters: Early-onset dementia and the reality of social construction' – theoretical paper focusing on the social construction of dementia and the implications in the workplace.
Ritchie, L., Tolson, D. and Danson, M. ‘Work keeps me well’ the benefits of continued employment post diagnosis. At the 25th Annual Conference of Alzheimer Europe in Ljubljana, Slovenia 2nd-4th September 2015
Banks, P., Ritchie, L. Danson, M. and Tolson, D. ‘Dementia in the workplace: the potential for continued employment post diagnosis.’ at the 24th Annual Conference of Alzheimer Europe in Glasgow, Scotland from 20-22 October 2014.
Ritchie, L, Banks, P., Danson, M. and Tolson, D. ‘Dementia in the workplace: the potential for continued employment post diagnosis.’ at the British Society of Gerontology annual conference 2014, University of Southampton 1st -3rd September 2014.
Banks, P, Tolson, D, Ritchie, L and Lau, C Life and work after diagnosis. At the Alzheimer Scotland Innovation, Research and Technology in Dementia. Dementia Awareness Week Conference 2014. Crowne Plaza Hotel, Glasgow 6th June 2014.
Banks, P. and Ritchie, L. Challenges in the Workplace. At the 7th Annual Scottish Conference on Dementia in Younger Adults, Apex Hotel, Edinburgh on the 25th October 2013.
The potential for continued employment after a diagnosis of dementia, Young Dementia UK, Newsletter, January 2015
The study also had its own webpage on Young Dementia UK
Dementia in the workplace: the potential for continued employment post diagnosis, Guest blog, Alzheimer Scotland, Let’s talk about dementia blog. 16th November 2014
'Dementia in the Workplace: the potential for continued employment post diagnosis' included in Disability in the workplace - training, capability assessments and support. Briefing paper for the Westminster employment Forum
Younger people with dementia: living well with your diagnosis launch. Thistle Hotel, Glasgow on the 20th March 2014
The Journey to Work: Work is a Health Outcome. National Allied Health Professionals Vocational Rehabilitation event. Grand Central Hotel, Glasgow on the 3rd April 2014.
'Dementia in the Workplace' training for the Lanarkshire Young Onset Dementia Team away day, 20th October 2015.
'Dementia in the Workplace' Alzheimer Scotland Helpine advisors training session, 15th November 2014.