Managing Dementia in Primary Care


The prospect of slowly losing our sense of self is truly terrifying. Even among the medical profession, dementia is a subject that people avoid.
So we felt that the challenge wasn’t simply to inform people about dementia, but offer them a way of understanding it that gave them hope.
Not a cure but a hope, that they, as people working in primary care could make a difference.
As one of the contributors says, even with dementia, ‘there’s a lot of living to be done’. We believe this project will help more people live and die well with dementia.

Dementia diagnosis in Wales is significantly lower than in the rest of the UK. The result is that many thousands of people don’t receive the medication, care and support they need.
This training resource was designed to improve the rates of dementia diagnosis and the quality of dementia care. A priority was to raise awareness of the role that primary care can play in dementia prevention.
It has been extremely well received among clinicians, patient groups and GP teams and take-up of the training is encouraging. It has added to our reputation for delivering innovative and effective mental health training.

What’s distinctive about this project is that it confronts GP teams with the experiences of people on the receiving end of their care. In video interviews, patients and carers describe their experiences in a way that is honest, challenging and direct.
The low rates of dementia diagnosis in Wales needed a radical approach, so, we decided to include the whole GP team in the training and focus on changing attitudes.
We wanted to connect GP staff with the experiences of their patients and help them to devise their own solutions to improving diagnosis, prevention and care.

When we piloted the training, people found it distressing to hear patients and carers talking about their experience of dementia. There was a lot of pressure to cut the painful parts, or only offer the training to clinical staff.
We didn’t anticipate this or we would have avoided it. But it was hugely helpful to realise how much support people need if they are to ‘dare to care’.
Now the training invites people to think about how they can support themselves, and each other. We’ve come to realise that this is an important aspect of improving the quality of care.

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Out starting point was that people working in primary care genuinely want to meet the needs of their patients.
So we gave them the raw materials – an insight into the experience of people with dementia and their carers, and information about the illness, its treatment and quality of care.
Then we asked them to apply both insight and information to their own situation. We asked them to anticipate problems and figure out solutions.
Dementia means that none of this is easy. But the result has been a real engagement in delivering improvements in dementia diagnosis and care. That’s pretty inspiring.