Don’t Cheat Generations Out of Early Dementia Diagnosis

Doctor handing over diagnosis to an elderly patient

Daunting headlines have hit the media today of doctors reluctant to diagnose patients with dementia because they feel there is nothing the NHS can do.

The headlines follow the release of the Alzheimer’s Society’s annual dementia report which includes shocking stats from 1,000 UK GPs revealing:

  • A quarter of doctors would consider avoiding sending someone for tests if they were unlikely to be offered any treatment or support afterwards
  • 25% would be reluctant to diagnose patients if the condition seems already very advanced
  • A total of 77% said patients with the condition were having to rely on family members as carers because they were not given enough assistance from the health service or local council

Around 850,000 adults in the UK are believed to have dementia although fewer than two thirds have been given a formal diagnosis.

At Home Instead, we care for thousands of older people living with dementia across the UK and can therefore say with authority that we believe early diagnosis is vital.

With early diagnosis, families have the gift of time – not only to fully understand the type of dementia that their loved one has but to make care plans that will allow them to live independently as long as possible.

We believe early diagnosis is critical. It allows people diagnosed with dementia, and their families, to seek out the support that’s right for them - to enable them to live well.

We believe doctors’ reluctance to diagnose dementia because of the lacking support landscape is cheating future generations out of quality dementia care.

Our CAREGiver Helen McEntire, who looks after three people with dementia, has blogged for the influential news site the Huffington Post about the importance of early dementia diagnosis.

At Home Instead, we deliver quality dementia care every day, through our City and Guilds recognized Dementia CARE Programme, developed in conjunction with national and international dementia and Alzheimer's care experts.

We have 2,400 CAREGivers who have already undertaken the CARE training and are qualified to provide the highest level of care and support for people living with dementia. It means they are able to continue to live in the familiarity of their own home as long as possible, which we know brings great comfort. Many more of our CAREGivers will undertake the course in the next 12 months.

We are sharing our knowledge with family members and the broader community too, through our Family Dementia Workshops, which are free to attend and through our on-line tutorial which is based on the Alzheimer’s CARE Programme.  These have helped over 20,000 people across the UK better understand the condition to date.

Trevor Brocklebank

Chief Executive Home Instead