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Helping general practices provide timely diagnosis of dementia

The Face Dementia practice improvement program launched in Western Sydney and Western Victoria in partnership with Dementia Training Australia.

general practice training launch

Of the 401,300 Australians living with dementia an estimated 50% remain undiagnosed.

We know timely diagnosis, regardless of age or disease progression, allows the person to get the treatment and support they need. It also allows the person, and their family, to adjust, plan, and make lifestyle changes now that can slow the progression of dementia and significantly improve quality of life.

Australian general practitioners (GPs) and practice nurses have a key role in identifying, diagnosing and providing post-diagnostic care for people with dementia.

Unfortunately, GPs face significant challenges when identifying and diagnosing dementia. Recent research conducted with GPs and practice nurses, as part of the Face Dementia project, identified five key barriers that contribute to delayed or missed dementia diagnoses:

To reduce these barriers and to increase diagnosis of dementia, Face Dementia, in conjunction with Dementia Training Australia, launched a practice improvement program in Western Sydney and Western Victoria. Face Dementia is also running a public awareness campaign in Western Sydney in English and Chinese language to reduce dementia stigma and encourage people with concerns to ask their GP.

The practice improvement program is open to GPs and practice nurses and includes:

Resources are available for all Australian general practices (for GPs, practice nurses and reception staff) including a series of videos on dementia:

The program was developed in collaboration with GPs, practice nurses, geriatricians Western Victoria Primary Health Network and Western Sydney Primary Health Network (WentWest PHN), and people with dementia and carers.

People are hesitant to see their GP for concerns around cognition in case this means they have dementia. But finding out sooner actually enables support to be offered and means people have the opportunity to live well with dementia.
Changes in a person’s ability, behaviour, personality, thinking or memory could be dementia and that’s why people with concerns should ask a GP for an assessment.
GPs can perform an annual health assessment after the age of 75, which offers an assessment of cognition within it. This can act as a baseline assessment or as an opportunity to discuss brain health and monitor for any changes.

General Practice Educator, Dr Stephanie Daly

For more information, visit The Practice Improvement Program or email [email protected].


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