Dementia in the workplace: a review

AuthorLouise Ritchie, Pauline Banks, Michael Danson, Debbie Tolson, Fiona Borrowman
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/JPMH-04-2014-0015
Pages24-34
Publication Date16 Mar 2015
Dementia in the workplace: a review
Louise Ritchie, Pauline Banks, Michael Danson, Debbie Tolson and Fiona Borrowman
Dr Louise Ritchie is Research
Fellow and Professor
Pauline Banks is Former Director,
both at the Institute of Older
PersonsHealth and Wellbeing,
School of Health, Nursing and
Midwifery, University
of the West of Scotland,
Hamilton, UK.
Michael Danson is Professor of
Enterprise Policy at School of
Management and Languages,
Heriot-Watt University,
Edinburgh, UK.
Professor Debbie Tolson is
Director Alzheimer Scotland
Centre for Policy and Practice
at School of Health, Nursing
and Midwifery, University
of the West of Scotland,
Hamilton, UK.
Fiona Borrowman is Health
Improvement Programme
Manager at Health
Improvement Programme,
Mental Health and Wellbeing
in Later Life and Dementia,
NHS Health Scotland,
Edinburgh, UK.
Abstract
Purpose Recent changes affecting state pension age, and earlier diagnosis, will result in more people with
dementia in employment. The purpose of this paper is to establish the nature of support that would enable/
enables people with dementia or mild cognitive impairment to continue employment post diagnosis.
Design/methodology/approach An integrative review was carried out supported by information derived
from a thematic analysis of data from interviews with seven relatives supporting a younger person with
dementia and one person with dementia.
Findings Six papers were identified for inclusion in the review. Findings from the published papers and
interviews indicated that work is a significant issue for people with dementia highlighting problems with job
retention, work performance and the impact of diagnosis.
Research limitations/implications The review highlighted a dearth of high-quality research in the area.
Although employment was not the main focus of the interviews, the extracts highlight some of the challenges
that face people who develop dementia while of working age, their families, and employers.
Practical implications Vocational rehabilitation is primarily carried out by allied health professionals;
however, there is a lack of research evidence relating to people with dementia in the workplace. Further
research is needed in order to inform future practice.
Social implications Loss of employment deprives families of financial security and employers of a skilled
employee.
Originality/value This is the first review to focus on dementia in employment, providing a starting point on
which to base future research in this area.
Keywords Employment, Dementia, Alzheimers disease, Mild cognitive impairment, Vocation,
Vocational rehabilitation
Paper type Literature review
Introduction
Approximately800,000 people in the UK havedementia, of these 17,000 areaged under 65 years
(Alzheimers Society, 2014); with the policy emphasis on earlier diagnosis thesefigures are set to
increase (Alzheimer Disease International, 2012). Recent changes affecting the age at which
people becomeeligible for a state pension and the abolition of the defaultretirement age will result
in more people with dementia being economically active. However, because dementia is typically
associatedwith older age, limited attentionhas been paid to the potential for employment,and little
is known about theexperiences of people with dementiawho are, or would like to be working, and
the experiences of employers and co-workers who may provide support or challenge their right
to continue working. This paper presents an integrative review of published literature relating to
people with dementia and employment. Following this, data from interviews with seven informal
carers supporting a relative who developed dementia while in employment, and one person who
recounted their own experience of developing dementia while working, will be presented.
Background
Bentham and La Fontaine (2007), focusing on services for younger people with dementia in the
UK, noted that it is not unusual for people with early symptoms to be made redundant or be
Received 30 April 2014
Revised 12 August 2014
Accepted 9 November 2014
The literature review was funded
by an Alzheimers Society
Research Grant No. 180
(PG-2012-199). The project is
supported by the Scottish
Dementia Clinical Research
Network. The interviews were
carried out on behalf of NHS
Health Scotland and Alzheimer
Scotland. The authors are grateful
to the interviewees for their
permission to publish extracts from
the interviews.
PAG E 24
j
JOURNAL OF PUBLIC MENTAL HEALTH
j
VOL. 14 NO. 1 2015, pp. 24-34, © Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1746-5729 DOI 10.1108/JPMH-04-2014-0015

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