Morecambe Bay leads the way in dementia diagnosis

Latest figures reveal that healthcare organisations in Lancashire North have achieved the highest rates for diagnosing dementia in Lancashire.

Dementia specialists in Lancashire North have put high dementia diagnosis rates down to local general practices working closely together with Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust and other services to improve the detection of the condition.

Figures released by NHS England show that dementia diagnosis rates in north Lancashire are now at 70 per cent – the highest in Lancashire.

High diagnosis rates are thanks to a number of initiatives being introduced, including developing more integrated dementia services led by specialist nurses. Memory assessment clinics, which assess a person’s memory skills to determine if they have dementia, have also been instrumental in diagnosing more people with dementia. In a national memory services audit in 2014 the Lancaster memory assessment service run by Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust was singled out as being amongst the best in the country.

More than 2,000 people across Lancashire North have been diagnosed with dementia, which is known to affect memory loss, thinking speed, mental agility and judgement.

Dementia advisors have been commissioned to provide quality information and signposting to people with dementia and their carers and families. Educational sessions for healthcare professionals have also contributed to dementia being at for the forefront of care in Lancashire North; this includes dementia inductions for junior doctors.

Diagnosing dementia allows people with the condition to get the right care and support and access to the appropriate services when they are ready. It also enables those living with dementia to understand the changes they are experiencing. People are referred to dementia services entirely at their own choice and can decide who knows about the diagnosis.

Local GP Dr Rohan Rao, who is Dementia Lead at NHS Lancashire North Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said: “Traditionally this area has always been aware of the need to diagnose and care for people who have dementia; this success is part of a bigger picture where we have been working to ensure our dementia services are of high quality for a considerable amount of time.

“The fact that we have the highest rate of dementia diagnosis across Lancashire all comes down to commissioners, providers and local services all working together to make sure the patient and their carer gets the full support that they need.”

Sharon Stephenson, Lancaster Memory Services Team Leader at Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Dementia is a devastating chronic long term condition that affects not only the person who has it, but all those around them too.

“Raising awareness of this condition, along with assessing and supporting people with their diagnosis, are all paramount in offering a good quality service.”

Lancaster Memory Assessment Service has introduced a one-stop-visit for assessment and diagnosis for selected patients. On receipt of the referral, service users are contacted by telephone within 24 hours to start the assessment process. Where appropriate, scan requests and other tests are arranged and information is sent to the patient in advance of their appointment.

Patients suitable for a one-stop single assessment with a nurse, including diagnosis and treatment, have enabled 40 per cent of users to leave clinic with a diagnosis. This in turn has improved clinic capacity which has helped improve waiting times for assessment.