Resource allocation and service development traditionally focuses on diagnostic categories and consequent perceived need. Identification of the actual level of need in the elderly with dementia, and the degree to which it is unmet is necessary to plan services both individually and as a group. The aim of this study was to characterise the needs of a sample of community dwelling elderly patients with dementia who were referred to an old age psychiatry service in Ireland between July 2002 and July 2003.
Eighty-two consecutively referred community dwelling patients with ICD-10 diagnosis of dementia were assessed on The Care Needs Assessment Pack for Dementia (CareNap-D). Data on needs across seven domains (health and mobility, self-care and toileting, social interaction, thinking and memory, behaviour and mental state, housecare, community living) is presented (Reynolds T et al., 1998).
Subjects had a mean of 33 (range: 13–56) identified needs. Approximately 1/3 of these were unmet with a mean of 13 (range: 0–37) and a mean of 20 (range: 4–39) were met. High levels of unmet need was identified in the domains of behaviour and mental state (84% of those with agitation) and of social interaction (79% of those with ‘partaking in activities’ need). The specific item of repetitive questioning occurred in 68 individuals and was unmet in 88% of these cases. Increasing age, lower MMSE score, and living alone were associated with greater total levels of unmet need.
This data underlines the degree of unmet need in the community dwelling elderly with dementia and the importance of developing a spectrum of services on the basis of the actual needs identified. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.