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Caring for patients with dementia in imaging and radiotherapy

Dementia is defined as a clinical syndrome of cognitive decline that is sufficiently severe to interfere with social or occupational functioning. The largest cause is Alzheimers Disease.


Dementia is common and is increasing with an estimated 0.8 million (or one in three people) over 65yrs living with dementia. Almost all of these patients undergo imaging.

Given that 2.5m people are living with cancer and 50% of these would benefit from radiotherapy, the radiography workforce needs to be able to care effectively for patients with dementia within their department.

The SCoR has produced a specific guidance document containing lots of useful information for radiographers on treating patients with dementia.

Click here to read Caring for People with Dementia: a clinical practice guideline for the radiography workforce (imaging and radiotherapy)

This clinical practice guideline is a comprehensive set of evidence-based recommendations for the whole radiographic workforce caring for people with dementia and their carers when undergoing imaging and/or radiotherapy. It has been developed systematically using the best available evidence from research and expert opinion, including service users, and subjected to peer professional, lay and external review.

The guideline has recommendations for good practice for individual members of the radiographic workforce, service managers, academic institutions and the Society and College of Radiographers (SCoR).

Purpose of this page

This webpage is a result of a study day held in London on 13th October 2015 - Caring for patients with dementia in imaging and radiotherapy. Speakers and delegates on the day shared knowledge and good practice.

A second similar day was held in Birmingham on 12th April 2016 and delegates on both days wanted to be able to promote and share good practice. This page will develop over time with resources, links and downloads.

Following the study day participants have taken action, for example Nasreen Hussain from Burnley General Hospital has signed up to become a dementia champion.
Julie Toms from Royal Marsden is going to feedback to colleagues and also hopes to become a Dementia Champion.

Julie A Mills, Acting Asst Director/Senior Lecturer - Medical Imaging at University of Exeter has added a two hour seminar for students to learn about dementia. Students watched the first part of Barbara's story and discuss the implications of dementia for a patient coming for imaging and how they can be supported more effectively. Using the SCoR dementia guidelines they then do a presentation on the key principles.

Emma Warrender, Therapy Radiographer at Weston Park Hospital has delivered a lunchtime lecture to her peers about the conference and what changes she hopes to make.

Ann Jones from Stepping Hill Hospital, Stockport wrote a synopsis of the lectures and made contact with the matron for dementia awareness. She will send the synopsis to every member of the department and present at CPD lunchtime sessions. She will also ensure that it is part of induction and modality leads will include it at localised staff meetings. She has also made a poster for the noticeboard giving her contact details as dementia champion.

Cyndie Hunter has a “to do” list as a result of the study day and has already used her new knowledge with some challenging patients.  

Laura Lees, Macmillan Specialist Radiographer at Worcestershire Oncology Centre discovered she had two  Dementia champion radiographers in our department and thinks they can together develop a patient information pack as an on-going piece of work.

She also found out that her Trust also has its own Nurse Dementia champions and a Dementia care assessment tool and pathway. A Dementia Matters card reminds staff of the golden rules:

  • Dignity and respect at all times
  • Equality of care
  • Maintain safe and comfortable environment
  • Non verbal communication
  • Take time to care
  • Individualised personal centred care
  • Awareness of signs and symptoms.

Jenny Jones, Imaging Services Manager, Nuffield Health Hospital Bristol is planning to include a session on Caring for patients with dementia at the next service day in June. She has started a file for staff to read ,which includes the SCoR guidance, and will book a room so that everyone can all watch the Guys and St Thomas video. Staff will also complete the online training available. Nuffield always have a dementia awareness day in May each year but previously there was nothing specific in Radiology. Jenny has  also been asked to feed back at the next Regional Managers meeting

Mark Harrison, Deputy MRI Manager at East Surrey Hospital will be putting together a dementia teaching session for  staff to help draw attention to the new SCOR guidelines. He will also be working with our Trust Dementia lead and hopefully become a dementia champion.

Joanne Hogarth from Victoria Hospital, Fife felt inspired by the day and was looking forward to sharing her knowledge with the department.

Pam Mitchell, CT/MRI Superintendent at University Hospital Ayr was already a dementia champion and since the study day she has shared Caring for People with Dementia: a clinical practice guideline for the radiography workforce with her colleagues and has presented Dementia awareness sessions to Imaging staff at her own and neighbouring Ayrshire site with others planned for the future.

Please visit this page regularly, and if you want to contribute contact Christina Freeman, Professional Officer.

Alzheimer's Society

The Alzheimer’s Society is the UK's leading dementia support and research charity, for anyone affected by any form of dementia in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. They provide information and practical and emotional support to help people live well with dementia, and they invest in world-class research with the ultimate goal of defeating it.

The Alzheimer’s Society also campaigns to improve public understanding of dementia and the devastating impact it can have, and make sure it's taken seriously and acted on by our governments.

Alzheimer Scotland is the leading dementia organisation in Scotland. They campaign for the rights of people with dementia and their families and provide an extensive range of innovative and personalised support services. 

Tim Beanland, Knowledge Manager, Alzheimer’s Society says “if you only read one book about dementia read Tom Kitwood”. Dementia Reconsidered: The Person Comes First (Rethinking Ageing) by Tom Kitwood (1997).

Links and useful publications

“This is me” is a simple and practical tool that people with dementia can use to tell staff about their needs, preferences, likes, dislikes and interests.

How to help people with dementia: A guide for customer-facing staff

NHS Education Scotland: Dementia Informed Practice Level; videos to support staff and students who require the knowledge and skills described in Promoting Excellence for the Dementia Informed Practice Level.

There are a number of companies selling sensory resources such as tactile aprons, for example Activities to Share.

Stickman Communications is a small company run by cartoonist Hannah Ensor. The products use stickmen and simple phrases to break down barriers, challenge preconceptions, promote understanding and acceptance, and enable communication. See

Alzheimer Scotland: Advanced dementia practice model: understanding and transforming advanced dementia and end of life care:

Full report

Executive Summary

Helpful fact sheets

Understanding and supporting a person with dementia

Changes in behaviour

Dementia and aggressive behaviour


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