People with a learning disability are living longer, this increased longevity brings with it the conditions and illnesses of older age; dementia is one of these. It is known that amongst people in the general population who have dementia there is inadequate pain recognition and treatment. This report has identified similar trends in pain management amongst people with a learning disability and dementia. This report explores the knowledge and practice in relation to pain recognition and management amongst direct support staff, members of community learning disability teams and General Practitioners. The report also examines the understanding and experiences of pain amongst people with a learning disability and dementia. The report identifies the dilemmas and obstacles to effective pain management. It also identifies examples of good practice and makes clear recommendations for practitioners and service providers.
Diana Kerr was a social worker for a number of years before becoming an independent trainer and consultant with a particular interest in learning difficulties and dementia. Colm Cunningham has a background in learning difficulties and general nursing and is now a Senior Fieldworker at the Dementia Services Development Centre at the University of Stirling. Heather Wilkinson is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships, University of Edinburgh where she directs a research programme focusing dementia. Diane Kerr and Heather Wilkinson were authors of the 2004 report, Home for good? Preparing to support people with learning difficulties in residential settings when they develop dementia (Pavilion, 1 84196 127 2) and, together with Colm Cunningham and Catherine Rae, wrote the guide for those supporting people with a learning disability and dementia entitled In the know: Implementing good practice (2005, Pavilion, 1 84196 166 3).