Policy and legislation

The policy section of this review provides an overview of key dementia and dementia-related policy on the island of Ireland. Commentaries are not included in this review, it is worth noting that Cahill (2010) and Todd (2010) wrote relevant pieces on the development of policy on dementia in ROI and NI respectively. Apart from these commentaries, no other journal articles with a specific focus on dementia policy were uncovered.

A diagnosis of dementia or even the suspicion that someone has dementia often raises important legal issues for the person affected, their families and professionals. Like policy, legislation is continuously evolving and new legislation that will have major implications for people with dementia in terms of autonomy and decision-making is anticipated in both parts of the island of Ireland; the Assited Decision-making (Capacity) Act was enacted in ROI and it is thought that the Mental Capacity Bill (NI) will come into effect in 2016. Currently, as our search revealed, a very limited body of work exists that has a key focus on legislation and legal issues relating specifically to dementia.  Of the three papers identified, one paper specifically relates to sexuality and dementia.  The remaining two papers discuss legal issues, primarily for older people, but referencing people with dementia. 

Sexuality and Dementia: Law, Policy and Practice


Lennox and Davidson (2013) identify areas of law, policy and practice in NI that could be improved to manage sexuality and dementia, particularly in care home settings.

 They highlight the difficulties of establishing capacity and consent and the need for more open discussion, debate and research in this area.  A particular gap identified in research is the lack of service user perspectives.  They conclude that staff must be better informed on legislation and policy and must receive better training and support on effectively managing sexuality and dementia.  

Legal implications regarding self-neglecting community-dwelling adults: a practical approach for the community nurse in Ireland

Public Health Nursing (Boston, Mass.)

Ballard (2010) examines the legal implications for nurses working in the community when they encounter clients who are believed to be self-neglecting.  The paper examines the literature and reports on a case study where the client had dementia.

 Ballard highlights the complexity of capacity and competency, mandatory or discretionary reporting, trespass, homelessness and confidentiality concluding that it is often unclear where the community nurse’s legal responsibilities lie.

Older people and legal advice - the need for joined up and creative approaches

Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law

Duffy et al. (2012) use a mixed methods approach to examine the potential of the Internet as a source of legal advice and information for older people.

 While the paper is not about people with dementia it highlights the need for timely, legal advice on diagnosis of dementia and the impact on carers who are often exhausted and do not have the energy to pursue legal issues.