What is A Memory Clinic? Dementia Diagnosis in The UK

WHAT IS A MEMORY CLINIC AND HOW IS DEMENTIA DIAGNOSED IN THE UK?

We know it can be worrying if you are faced with the reality that your loved one is experiencing memory loss in later life. Maybe your loved one is becoming increasingly forgetful and confused. Or they could be struggling with tasks of daily life. This does not necessarily mean that they have dementia. However, if instances are increasing in frequency and severity, you will naturally be concerned. You will want to find out what is causing the memory loss. If you know the cause you can provide the care they need.

Many people can access a memory service, or memory clinic as they are more commonly known. Here we explore what a memory clinic is, its benefits and how you can access an appointment. This will mean you are informed to make the right choice for your loved one.

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WHAT IS A MEMORY CLINIC?

A memory clinic is a specialist service where people with memory loss can go to be assessed and diagnosed. A memory clinic will be run by specialist clinicians. This includes neuropsychologists, psychologists and nurse specialists. They will investigate the cause of the memory loss and provide treatment options. These experts can then assist with any support you may need in the future.

HOW TO GET AN APPOINTMENT AT A MEMORY CLINIC

If you are concerned about memory loss you should consult your GP first. They will assess your loved one and they may want them to be assessed by a more specialist member of staff before making a referral to a memory clinic. Most local authorities run memory clinic services. Depending on where you are in the country a referral could take 5-6 weeks. Specific test needed to diagnose dementia are not usually available to GPs.

WHAT HAPPENS AT A MEMORY CLINIC?

When you attend a memory clinic the specialist will talk to you about your concerns. They will be seeking to better understand your loved one’s experiences. The experts will listen to your concerns so they can build up an accurate picture of what has been happening. Your loved one will then undergo a series of cognitive assessments and brain scans.

Memory Test

Following an initial consultation, it is likely you will then meet with a neuropsychologist with your loved one. They will get a deeper understanding as to your loved one’s current cognitive function and memory. The first stage is to conduct a Neuropsychology Assessment or ‘memory clinic test’ as it is more commonly known.

This assessment will determine how well each part of the brain (known as lobes) are functioning. The test is focused on understanding recall and short-term memory. Both are impacted if someone is living with dementia. If a person struggles to complete the memory test successfully, this may indicate damage to the frontal lobe or temporal lobe in the brain. The frontal lobe covers thinking, planning and problem solving. The temporal lobe is responsible for memory.

The neuropsychologist will initially conduct a general screening of your loved one’s brain. Many neurologists use the Addenbrooke’s Cognitive Examination (third edition). This tests attention, orientation, memory, language, visual perceptual and visuospatial skills. It is useful in the detection of cognitive impairment. It is especially helpful in the detection of Alzheimer’s disease and frontal-temporal dementia. Depending on the outputs of this test, the neuropsychologist will undertake more detailed testing of areas of concern.

The test can take up to two hours. Once the test is complete the neuropsychologist will summarise how well your loved one performed in the test. They will then compare results to the national average.

MRI Brain Scan

The memory clinic may then organise for an MRI scan of the brain. This will enable them to understand whether there is damage and to what part of the brain. The MRI will give information on the brain’s blood supply. This will determine if any blood vessels are affected which are impacting memory. It will also identify any brain swelling or a tumour.

Consultation

FOnce the neuropsychologist has the results of the MRI scan, they will discuss with you and your family the diagnosis and outline next steps in terms of treatment and any support you require.

It may be that you are asked to return to the memory clinic in a few months’ time so further tests can be done to see how your condition has progressed.

RECEIVING A DEMENTIA DIAGNOSIS

It may be that the memory test and MRI scan confirms a diagnosis of dementia. We know how devastating this can be for those affected and their family. Receiving a diagnosis can be a positive step. It enables you to better understand the symptoms your loved one is experiencing. It will also determine the type of dementia your loved one has, for example Alzheimer’s or vascular dementia.

Knowing what dementia, they are living with will help plan the care and support they need. This means they have the right care at the right time. Your loved ones GP will be notified and will work collaboratively with other specialist to plan the support and medication they need. Further appointments to track the progression of the disease will be organised. Specialist memory clinic staff will be able to support you with any concerns you may have. They can provide advice about support services and help you plan long-term care.

CARE AT HOME IS BEST AFTER A DEMENTIA DIAGNOSIS

We have been providing high-quality dementia care for over 10 years. Following a diagnosis of dementia, it is important to consider the future. Plans for when the condition progresses need to be made. This way you avoid an unnecessary emergency where a care arrangement needs to be put in place urgently. This can be hugely upsetting for your loved one. With sensitive and gentle encouragement, have discussions with your loved one about the future.

If 24-hour care is required, then you will need to decide whether to have care in your own home or move into a care home. We know receiving care in the comfort, safety and familiarity of your own home has many benefits. It helps improve overall health and well-being for a person living with dementia. Moving at any stage in life can be disruptive and stressful. For a person living with dementia, moving to a care home can affect their ability to live well. Receiving one-to-one live-in care can offer many benefits to a person living with dementia. Our expert care teams can support families with these decisions. They help ensure the best outcome for the person living with dementia and their family.

HOW CAN THE GOOD CARE GROUP HELP?

Our award-winning live-in care service is delivered by professional carers. Our carers are trained in how to care for someone living with dementia. They use a range of best practice techniques, including music therapy proven to provide reassurance, reduce anxiety and calm behaviours. We can reduce the need to use anti-psychotic drugs.

High-quality dementia care at home

We work with leading medical experts, academic bodies and leading charities. This ensures our care is of the very highest standards. Our work with the Contented Dementia Trust has seen us introduce the SPECAL approach to dementia care at home. This approach enables us to understand and discover what is important to the person living with dementia. We then develop a purposeful and meaningful programme of care. This programme positively improves overall health and well-being. With our own in-house Admiral Nurse, we can provide practical and emotional support to the person living with dementia and their family.

In-depth dementia care planning

We ensure the care team that looks after your loved one is perfectly matched. They will be skilled and equipped to meet all your loved one’s dementia care needs. Our in-depth care planning process will ensure all your loved one’s needs are met. This process means we understand their preferences, choices and how they wish to lead their life, as well as their care needs.

Highest service rating from care regulators in England and Scotland

Unlike introduction agencies we are fully regulated in England and Scotland. This means the care and support we provide is regularly inspected. We are the only dedicated live-in care provider in England to achieve an ‘Outstanding’ rating by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). We have achieved this rating in all five measures – safe, effective, caring responsive and well-led. In Scotland, our service has been inspected by the Care Inspectorate (CI). It has achieved the highest rating of a 6 (Excellent) for quality of care and support and 5 (very good) for staffing, management and leadership. We know this provides families with peace of mind that their loved one is receiving the best possible dementia care.

A fully managed service

Families benefit from our fully managed service delivered by care experts. This means you do not need to worry about supervising and managing the carer yourself. Our professional carers are supervised by an experienced care manager. We provide this support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. With our service, families do not have the burden of managing the care arrangement themselves. This gives families can have peace of mind, whilst enjoying quality time with their loved one. They do not have to worry about the tasks of caring.

ARRANGING DEMENTIA CARE AT HOME

Once you have decided care at home is right for you and your loved one – we are here to help.

We will conduct a comprehensive assessment of your loved one’s needs. This covers not just their care needs, but how they wish to live their life. The assessment informs the care plan which will be created by an expert care manager, guided by clinical experts. The plan of care guides our professional care team to deliver the highest quality dementia care to your loved one, which includes music therapy if you wish.

TALK TO US ABOUT OUR LIVE IN CARE SERVICES

Find out more about how we can help your loved one to live well in the comfort of their home – call our friendly experts today.


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