Dementia in the workplace: the implications for career development practice

Dr Valerie Egdell1, Emma Bolger2, Dr Louise Ritchie3
1Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. 2University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, United Kingdom. 3University of the West of Scotland, South Lanarkshire, United Kingdom


It is recognised that dementia is, and will increasingly be, a workplace issue. While continued employment is not appropriate for all, it is possible (Ritchie et al., 2018). At present however, many individuals leave the workplace before, or on receipt of, a diagnosis of dementia (Ritchie et al., 2018). Continued employment, facilitated by reasonable adjustments, or redeployment, may not be considered; such that employers may fail meet their legal and human rights obligations to support employees with dementia (Egdell et al., 2018; Ritchie et al., 2018). The workplace exits of people with dementia are often poor, compromising dignity and self-esteem (Ritchie et al., 2018). This paper argues that more attention needs to be given to supporting employees with dementia to either remain in work or exit the workplace, and that career development practice has a key role in this. While attention has been paid to the career development needs of older workers and persons with disabilities (Chen, 2011; Soresi et al., 2008), there has been no consideration of persons with dementia. This paper considers the role of careers practitioners can play in the development and implementation of coping strategies to aid the continued employment of persons with dementia. When continued employment is not possible, the role of careers practitioners in the range of decisions, that extend beyond the cessation of work, is considered.  In reflecting on the role of career development practice in supporting employees with dementia, the importance of cross-disciplinary work between this area and (social) gerontology is stressed.