Dr Laura Lebec

Dr Laura Lebec from the University of the West of Scotland writes about a research project funded by the Alzheimer’s Society which aims to support people with dementia in the workplace.

At the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice, in the University of the West of Scotland, a team of researchers, led by Dr Louise Ritchie, are working on an innovative 3-year project to improve the support available for employed people living with dementia.

Dementia is a growing workplace concern, and our research will explore the question: What role could the career development practitioner play in supporting employees who have been diagnosed with dementia? Here are a few facts to consider:

  • In Scotland it is estimated that more than 90,000 people are living with dementia
  • Approximately 3,000 of those will have young onset dementia and could be in employment
  • Young onset dementia is diagnosed before the age of 65

The term 'dementia' describes a range of symptoms that, over time, can affect memory, problem‐solving, language, vision, and behaviour. Alzheimer's disease is the most common type of dementia, affecting more than half of those diagnosed.

Dr Laura Lebec

It's important for employers to understand that people can still live well with dementia. Someone who is in their 40s, 50s, or 60s may be physically relatively healthy and with family and financial responsibilities.

Research has shown that continued employment for people living with dementia is a viable option; many individuals may wish to continue working and have the capability to contribute to society and live purposeful lives. Until now there has been a lack of consideration of the career guidance needs of people with dementia.

For some employees, retirement may be the preferred option post diagnosis. However, remaining in employment is possible and many employees living with dementia may wish to continue in their existing role or seek alternative employment or volunteering opportunities. Support from families, colleagues, management, and a multi‐disciplinary team of professionals is essential, and our research will explore how the career development practitioner could form a part of this supporting team.

This research involves interviews and discussions with employers, and we would be keen to hear from members of Glasgow's IFSD who are interested in finding out more about how they can support staff members who have been diagnosed with young onset dementia.

To take part in our research project please get in touch via email enquiries are very welcome. I'd encourage employers, and anyone reading this blog to take a look at Alzheimer Scotland's website to learn more about Brain Health Scotland, Dementia Friends Training (free) fundraising Tea and A Blether events and corporate partnerships which help fund essential services such as a 24-hour helpline.

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