The increased focus on improving the early diagnosis of dementia has seen the rate of diagnosis increase, and therefore a necessary shift of focus to care and support
Scotland and Northern Ireland have been showing the way when it comes to the diagnosis in the UK, with an estimated diagnosis rate of 65%. In 2015 the diagnosis rate in England was estimated to be around 55% with an expected increase to 60% in 2016 while Wales is still behind with a diagnosis rate estimated at 43% in 2015.
With the overall increase in dementia diagnosis the emphasis shifts to care, and especially the role of primary care.
In their article "A new dementia currency in primary care" Professor Alistair Burns and Dr Peter Bagshaw discuss the issues surrounding diagnosis and care breaking it down to three principal challenges:
1) The fear of giving a diagnosis and getting it wrong
2) The clinical message of the benefits of a diagnosis
3) The way in which primary care is managed in primary care.
The article emphasises the need to incentivise good practice around diagnosis and care. This has long been the focus of our work at DSDC, where we recognise that an early diagnosis together with appropriate support and care can significantly improve the quality of life for the person living with dementia. Our Best Practice Dementia Care programme focusses on ways to improve the delivery of care and quality of life for the person living with dementia while our Dementia Design School provides training in the areas of design which promotes independence for the person in their day to day living.
The DEMENTIA Acronym
In their article the acronym DEMENTIA has been contrived to help GPs guide their dementia reviews and care planning:
D – Diagnosis review.
E – Effective support for carers review.
M – Medication review.
E – Evaluate risk.
N – New symptoms inquiry.
T – Treatment of medical conditions.
I – Individual issues.
A – Advance care planning.
Professor Alistair Burns is NHS England’s National Clinical Director for Dementia.
Dr Peter Bagshaw is a General Practitioner at the Willow Surgery, Downend, Bristol, and Clinical Lead for Dementia, South West Strategic Clinical Network.