UK Dementia Congress 2020

UK Dementia Congress 2020

10th - 12th November 2020 - Virtual event

As with many other events this year, the 15th UK Dementia Congress ran as a virtual event on 10th, 11th and 12th November attended by approximately 600 delegates. Organised by the Journal of Dementia Care, in partnership with the University of Worcester and the Alzheimer’s Society, there were over 100 different presentations including live webinars, panel discussions, live Q&A sessions, presentations and posters addressing topics ranging from arts, use of technology, risk-taking and stress and distress through to more reflective sessions on what has happened for the dementia care sector during this challenging year of the Covid-19 pandemic.   Special interest streams also took place on Dementia Care in Acute Hospital Settings, in partnership with National Dementia Action Alliance, and End of Life Care for People Living with Dementia, in partnership with Dementia UK.

In her talk for UKDC care minister Helen Whately pledged that work on the government’s new dementia strategy – replacing the 2020 Challenge which originated during David Cameron’s premiership – would continue apace. “As we come through this pandemic, our job is not only to make life better for those living with dementia, important though that is, but also to set our sights high on a future when we’ve not only beaten Covid but beaten dementia too,” she said.

In the opening plenary, Care in the time of Covid: Tales of the unexpected, chaired by Professor Dawn Brooker, Trevor Salomon talked movingly about his struggles to see his wife, who has been living with Alzheimer’s in a care home since May 2019. “Everything was going well until Covid and lockdown struck,” he said at UKDC, adding that he had had to be “pleasantly assertive” to be able to see her at all. Salomon agreed with hopes expressed during the discussion by Keith Oliver, Alzheimer’s Society ambassador, who spoke about the “fractured society” revealed during the year. “People with dementia in care homes were thrown under a bus in 2020 and I’m really hoping that in 2021 we really do come together,” Oliver said. Isabelle Latham, from the Association for Dementia Studies, hoped it would lead to long overdue recognition of the sector. “The powers that be must see that social care can no longer be treated as the poor cousin of the NHS,” she added.

Suzanne Mumford, who leads on quality development at Care UK care homes, pointed out the “extraordinary lengths” to which staff had gone in supporting residents: “Our colleagues are exhausted, but they’re ready to give even more now we’re entering a second wave.”   Asked about the government’s cautious care home visiting guidelines then in operation, she admitted that Care UK stretched them to the limit. “When residents are extremely distressed, family can come so that they can spend time together. If people have been together for 50 years, can we deny them the opportunity to be with their relative?” Jo James, a consultant nurse at Imperial College NHS Trust, said blanket bans on hospital visiting had been imposed without justification. “Would visitors really have posed a greater risk than a nurse going home to her family?” she asked. James also questioned the lack of access to hospital services during the pandemic for people with dementia.

The following two days of live plenaries and pre-recorded parallel sessions provided a wide range of stimulating topics and an impressive array of expert speakers.  The Journal of Dementia Care is indebted to a great number of people and organisations who play important roles in shaping the event and we look forward to seeing you all next year in person!


Thank you, what a wonderful conference, I feel inspired and informed. How fantastic it would be to share the presentations with my colleagues. It was the one thing I missed, being able to discuss what I have learned with the people with whom I work. It was so uplifting to be part of all this, I have a better sense that I am playing my part in the whole “team” who are attempting to do their best in caring for people with dementia and their families and carers. The online format did work well and it was great to be able to ask questions.”  (email from UKDC 2020 attendee)


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