Clarke C, Mantle R Using risk management to promote person-centred dementia care. Nurs Stand. 2016; 30:(28)41-46

Cullum S, Taye T Management of dementia. In: Dening T, Thomas A, Stewart R, Taylor J-P (eds). Oxford: Oxford University Press; 2020

Dening KH, Hibberd P Exploring the community nurse role in family-centred care for patients with dementia. Br J Community Nurs. 2016; 21:(4)198-202

Department of Health. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. 2010. https// (accessed 7 May 2024)

Dickins M, Goeman D, O'Keefe F, Iliffe S, Pond D Understanding the conceptualisation of risk in the context of community dementia care. Soc Sci Med. 2018; 208:72-79

Fang B, Yan E Abuse of older persons with dementia: a review of the literature. trauma violence abuse. 2018; 19:(2)127-147

The trajectory of dementia in the UK-making a difference. 2014. https// (accessed 29 April 2024)

Mapes N Think outside: positive risk-taking with people living with dementia. Working with Older People. 2017; 21:(3)157-166

Nazarko L Risk management 4/4. Risk enablement—practical aspects. British Journal of Healthcare Assistants. 2016; 10:(3)122-126

Sandilyan MB, Dening T What is dementia?. In: Harrison Dening K (ed). London: Jessica Kingsley Press; 2019

Projections of older people living with dementia and costs of dementia care in the United Kingdom, 2019–2040. 2019. http// (accessed 29 April 2024)

Risk and dementia

02 June 2024
Volume 29 · Issue 6


People with dementia and their family carers may be subject to a number of different risks; these risks may overlap with, and impact on one another. Due to changes in capacity that come with dementia, people with the diagnosis may be overly cautious about decisions made relating to risk made on their behalf, and this may have a negative impact on their wellbeing and quality of life. This article aims to educate community nurses on the risks they need to be aware of when working with families affected by dementia, and presents a risk enablement framework as a way of assessing and managing risk in a person-centred way.

Risk is an inherent part of our day-to-day lives, and we will make decisions about taking, or not taking certain risks almost without being aware of it (e.g. taking a car journey or crossing a road). We take for granted our ability to assess and negotiate these daily risks, allowing us to live our lives with a balance of taking risks, maintaining our safety, and our quality of life. However, when someone is diagnosed with dementia, there is often an immediate question placed over their capacity to make decisions for themselves, including those about taking risks (Dickins et al, 2018). As such, people with dementia may find themselves subject to overly cautious decisions made on their behalf, which can have a negative impact on their quality of life.

Dementia is encountered frequently in community nursing settings, with an estimated 994 000 people in the UK currently living with this condition (Wittenberg et al, 2019). Dementia is a set of symptoms caused by progressive neurological changes in the brain, including declining cognitive function, problems with memory and recall, language and personality, as well as social changes (Sandilyan and Dening, 2019). There are many causes of dementia, the most common being Alzheimer's disease, but with vascular dementia, mixed dementia (usually Alzheimer's disease and vascular dementia), dementia with Lewy bodies and frontotemporal dementia – all being seen frequently as well (Cullum and Taye, 2020). Dementia has an impact, not just on the person diagnosed with the condition, but also on the wider family unit. There are currently around 700 000 family carers looking after someone with dementia (Lewis et al, 2014), and a growing understanding of the importance of working within a family-centred model of care for the healthcare professional (HCP) to effectively support this group of people well (Dening and Hibberd, 2016).

Register now to continue reading

Thank you for visiting Community Nursing and reading some of our peer-reviewed resources for district and community nurses. To read more, please register today. You’ll enjoy the following great benefits:

What's included

  • Limited access to clinical or professional articles

  • New content and clinical newsletter updates each month