This report explains the methodology and details the currently available outcomes of a locally-delivered GP education seminar programme intended to improve primary care awareness, knowledge, early identification and management of people with dementia and their carers.
It is intended to inform commissioners and educationalists who wish to deliver GP education on dementia matters in an effective format, both in terms of learning and behaviour change and cost implications.
Although earlier research failed to show significant difference between different models of primary care education, a more recent study showed that decision support software and practice-based workshops significantly increased the detection of dementia (Downs 2006).
The EVIDEM-ED trial is a cluster-randomised controlled trial of an educational intervention to improve dementia detection and management in primary care. This trial is developing and testing an intervention that is customised to the educational needs of individual practices. The educational intervention consists of practice based workshops with a tailored curriculum designed by a multidisciplinary expert group and supplemented by electronic resources (Illiffe 2010).
Based on the interventions that have already been trialled it was felt by the authors of this paper that an educational intervention involving a blended–learning approach, using an e-learning module along with practice-based workshops, linking in with a locally-developed Map of Medicine pathway for Dementia, would be the most likely format to have a positive impact on dementia detection rates, knowledge, skills and attitudes among primary care practitioners.
Map of Medicine is an on-line resource for healthcare workers. It can provide a single point of reference on the identification, diagnosis and management of medical conditions, including both national and local guidelines, referral criteria and patient information. It is presented in a format which is quick and easy to navigate. Although a commercial product, NHS employees have free access via Athens login details and in Devon many GPs have a desktop icon which automatically logs them into the website without the need to remember or enter in their username and password each time.
There are two dementia map pathways available:
Another advantage of using Map of Medicine to support primary care teams is that Map pathways are readily updated when there are any changes to local information or patient services, whilst paper-based information will quickly become obsolete.
In addition, the South West Strategic Health Authority commissioned Dr Leah Jones, ST4 GP trainee, to develop an e-learning platform for primary care. This platform draws on existing e-learning programmes developed by NHS clinical knowledge summaries, the BMJ, e-GP learning and the Alzheimer’s Society CD-ROM Dementia: Management in Primary Care.
The new e-learning platform has been developed with Peninsular Medical School and combines learning modules with case studies, on-line quizzes, and background information. Primary care workers receive continuing professional development credits for undertaking various components of the platform and can download certificates to evidence learning for their annual appraisal.
The e-learning platform is linked to a learning node in the local Map of Medicine pathway for easy access, but may also be accessed at www.dementialearningzone.co.uk.