Objectives: With increasing longevity, more people will develop dementia. These people will have a wide range of needs according to their circumstances. Services in the community struggle to meet these needs. This study aimed to identify needs of dementia sufferers attending the South Dublin Old Age Psychiatry service as rated by their carers, to assess the extent of unmet need and the implication of this.
Method: The carers of 40 community-dwelling people with dementia attending the service were interviewed by one researcher using the Camberwell Assessment of Need for the Elderly (CANE). This measures a wide range of needs over 24 areas, from personal care, to social, financial and psychological care needs. Qualitative information was also obtained from carers regarding services available and their accessibility. A measure of carer stress and satisfaction with help for this was also obtained.
Results: Overall, the highest levels of need identified (both met and unmet) were in the areas of psychological functioning (memory and psychological distress), followed by social needs in the areas of managing money, daytime activities, self-care, and looking after the home. Highest unmet social needs were in the areas of daytime activities, home care and managing money. For 23/24 domains, carers were satisfied rather then unsatisfied with help received. The areas of greatest dissatisfaction to them concerned daytime activities, household skills and self-care. Over half of the carers reported psychological distress.
Conclusion: High levels of need, both met and unmet were identified. Many identified needs related to the provision of community supports in the areas of selfcare, household skills and daytime activities, in addition to psychiatric needs. Assessment of needs is important to ensure adequate and responsive service provision, in keeping with the ethos of community care.