The All Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia today published their report ‘Unlocking Diagnosis: The key to improving the lives of people with dementia’. The APPG is a cross party group made up of MPs and Peers with an interest in dementia, and chaired by Baroness Sally Greengross. The APPG aims to raise awareness of dementia within parliament, and to influence policy and legislative change designed to improve the lives of people with dementia and their carers.
The Unlocking Diagnosis report sets out a number of recommendations for improving dementia diagnosis rates, which currently vary widely across the UK. It is estimated in the report that over half (57%) of those in the UK who have dementia do not have a diagnosis. The report draws on evidence presented to the APPG from 1075 questionnaires from people with dementia, carers, GPs, psychiatrists, nurses, social workers, and other professionals, organisations, and interested individuals. They also heard oral evidence, and received a number of other written submissions.
From the analysis of the questionnaire responses published in the report, it is evident that there is a clear need for greater public awareness of the benefits of early diagnosis of dementia. Statistics published in the report suggest that more than half (52%) of the responses from people with dementia “Thought memory problems are normal as you get older” and 35% of respondents “Didn’t think there was any point” in going to see their GP straightaway about memory problems. The report highlighted the wide variations in rates of diagnosis across the UK with some areas having diagnosis rates of over 70% and others under 40%.
The report made 9 key recommendations for improving rates of diagnosis for dementia. These include recommendations about investing in a public dementia awareness raising campaign, introducing numerical targets for increasing the percentage of people with dementia who have a formal diagnosis, improved public heath responses to dementia, improved education and training for health and social care professionals in identifying, understanding and assessing people with dementia, and providing adequate information and one-to-one support for people diagnosed with dementia and their families.
All of these recommendations are to be welcomed, as is the focus on improving diagnosis rates. We were particularly pleased to see that the final recommendation highlighted the importance of providing support to people with dementia and their families following diagnosis. In our Duties to Care dementia project, one of our key findings was that carers would like a single continuing point of contact for access to services, advice and referrals.
If anyone is in any way unclear about why early diagnosis is important, they would do well to watch the video blog on this subject posted by Norrms, a person living with dementia on his YouTube channel.
Related Links (all open in a new window/tab):
All Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia:
Our Health South West
Dementia Project Newsletter February 2012
Norrms video blog about why an early diagnosis is important