Investigating Access to Dementia Support Services was selected by the public as one of their top four priorities. We wanted to find out more about referrals to Dementia Support Services. This included:
- Were referrals being made?
- Were they timely?
- Were there any significant variations across the county?
- Could we identify any good practice?
We carried out a series of different engagement methods to gather views and experience of patients and staff.
We had hoped to be able to feedback good practice by identifying any differences across the county in the referral processes, however at the conclusion of the project there were no clear variations in patient experience identified, despite a considerable amount of work being undertaken with stakeholders.
The majority of the people who completed the survey were happy with the way in which they had been referred into services, although not everyone felt supported by their GP and sometimes the referrals to other services took a long time, with some patients telling us they had to find support services themselves rather than being signposted by a health professional.Throughout our visits to organisations, support groups and venues for dementia patients we encountered a wide range of services available both for patients and carers.
Although anecdotally we had been told there were variations across the county in the standard of referrals and the timeliness of the support patients and families received, we were unable to evidence this in the work we undertook. The stakeholders we engaged with were unable to provide any factual information; therefore we feel that we are not in a position to make any particular recommendations for referrals into services. However we can say that the speed of diagnosis and the ability to access support quickly makes a great difference to patients and families.
We will continue to analyse any intelligence we receive about dementia support and services. If we become aware of any particular good practice over the next 6 months we will investigate and report back to our board and relevant partners by updating this report.
GPs should refer patients to support services at a very early stage in diagnosis which would mean they can have prompt help, support and advice from trained individuals