This report published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia (APPG) explores the barriers to dementia diagnosis in the UK. It makes recommendations to improve diagnosis rates and provide better post diagnosis support for people with dementia.
A diagnosis of dementia opens doors. It gives a person access to treatment and often support services. It allows them to plan for their future. It provides them with knowledge of what is happening to them. Yet it is still common for a person with dementia to live with the condition and never be given a formal diagnosis. The APPG wanted to explore why this was still the case, despite the political priority that has been given to early diagnosis.
Between December 2011 and March 2012 the inquiry received more than 1,100 pieces of evidence from people with dementia, carers, family members, health professionals and other organisations and individuals with an interest in the subject.
The inquiry found there were barriers throughout the process of diagnosis, from people having poor understanding of dementia so not visiting a doctor, through issues faced by GPs and memory specialists, to problems with the quality of support offered immediately following diagnosis.
The main recommendations from the inquiry were:
- Invest in a sustained public dementia awareness campaign
- A quantified ambition that increases the percentage of people with dementia who have a formal diagnosis should be embedded in the NHS and used to lever change
- Public health directors across the UK should make early dementia diagnosis a priority
- Primary care workers and other health and social care professionals in contact with people in groups with an established risk of dementia should routinely ask questions to identify symptoms of dementia
- UK-wide, all health and social care professionals working in a general capacity with people at risk of dementia should have pre- and post-registration training in identifying and understanding dementia
- Issues with the assessment tools used by UK GPs and other primary care professionals should be explored and addressed
- Across the UK, commissioners should invest in appropriate memory service resources to cater to the needs of their population
- Strengthen the role of the Memory Services National Accreditation Programme (MSNAP) UK-wide
- Adequate information and one-to-one support should be provided to patients and their families immediately following diagnosis