Developing improved memory assessment services

The South West Dementia Partnership has agreed as a priority the development of improved memory assessment services to enable a year on year increase in the rates of diagnosis of dementia.

Improved rates of diagnosis are required as the South West has the highest ‘diagnosis gap’ in England. That is the difference between the estimated prevalence of dementia in the population and the number of people with a diagnosis of dementia.

The target agreed across the South West is a minimum of 60% diagnosis rate, from the estimated prevalence within Primary Care Trust/Local Authority population, by 2012/13. This ambition forms part of the agreed set of metrics for the implementation of the National Dementia Strategy in the South West.

The National Audit Office Reports in 2007 and 2010 have focussed on the need to achieve improvement in rates of diagnosis through development of accredited memory assessment services.

It is recognised that memory assessment services differ widely in their organisation, funding, staffing and levels of service. They are also currently changing and adapting to meet growing demand.

We undertook a baseline survey during May to develop a clear picture of current memory assessment services and diagnosis rates for each Primary Care Trust / Local Authority across the South West at the start of 2010/11. The survey examines planning, access and quality assurance of memory assessment services by secondary care providers.

An analysis of this information has been undertaken and will be reviewed by the Memory Assessment Expert reference Group on 25 June.

The baseline position provides a very useful platform on which to build on a regional approach to specifications, standards and accreditiation.

The survey findings will be posted shortly on this website. For more information contact Stephen Thorpe