Study finds that additional dementia training could save lives and reduce levels of depression.

In a recent study, scientists found that better support given to patients suffering from dementia led to a significant reduction in mortality, aggression, higher quality of life and lower rates of depression. All symptoms commonly associated with the illness.

During a nine month study, the training given was focused on reducing the use of anti-psychotic medicine and on increasing social interaction with dementia patients. 

Past reports have shown that seventy percent of care home residents suffer from the illness. A majority of them are over medicated and often left for long periods of time without any human interaction. In severe cases patients could on average for two minutes every six hours. 

The study that took place was carried out by dementia experts from Exeter University, King's College London and Oxford Health Trust. In total 67 homes were examined and 847 patients studied. 

Joanne McDermid from King's College London, said ' Care home staff are under a lot of pressure - it's a really tough job. It's a challenging environment, both for residents living with the disease and the staff.'

Clive Ballard presenting the findings at the Alzheimer's Association held in Chicago, found that out 64 deaths there were 12 fewer in homes that received the extra training. Concluding that if the findings were to applied across the UK, he found that as many as 20,000 deaths resulting from dementia could be prevented. Providing the correct training for for care assistants could cost roughly £4,500 for every life saved. 

It was found that the main cause of the drop in the mortality rate was the reduction of antipsychotics.  Nine months after the training, the use of the drugs had reduced by fifty percent.

'Usually GP's visit once a week and they don't always review drugs,' Clive Ballard said. 'If you can educate care assistants, you empower them to take action, to make sure antipsychotics are reviewed frequently therefore making a huge difference.'

'We are often told that staff don't have enough time. But it doesn't have to be a big set piece - it can be talking to them while they get dressed or while having a cup of tea. That additional social interaction can make a huge difference.'

'We need to accept this as discrimination against people with dementia. We need to urgently do better.'