Dementia is a long-term condition affecting memory, cognitions, health and behaviour. It is estimated that currently there are more than 850,000 people with dementia in the UK (Alzheimer’s Society, 2019) and this number is expected to double over the next thirty years with the increase in population size.
By diagnosing dementia early, we can be more prepared and ultimately improve quality of life for those with the diagnosis. We are the main provider of community and inpatient services for people living with dementia across Hampshire and Southampton.
What we do
We provide multi-professional assessment and treatment for people living with dementia across Hampshire, usually in their own homes and also in our hospitals, our memory clinic services and in care homes. Each community mental health team is responsible for a designated geographical area and accepts referrals from specified GP practices in their area. We can signpost patients to ongoing community based support to live well with their dementia diagnosis, to try to remain as independent as possible and continue to enjoy their usual activities.
For some patients, staying in hospital on a mental health ward for treatment will be the best option to support their mental health and associated complex behaviours. Our three wards across Hampshire provide a caring, compassionate environment to support those living with dementia, their carers and relatives. A highly specialised multi professional team works closely with community resources and families/carers in the best interests of the person on the ward.
Our specialist inpatient dementia assessment and treatment wards include:
Accessing the service
Everybody forgets things from time to time. But if you are noticing problems with your memory, or the memory of someone close to you, it’s important to speak to a GP.
Your GP may do some initial tests and investigations and refer you onto your local memory assessment service. We have a number of these centres located around Hampshire.
The Memory Assessment Service aims to assess the following:
- Whether or not a person has any problem at all with their memory
- Whether they have physical health problems or mental health problems, such as depression or anxiety which may be affecting their memory
- Whether they have a mild condition called mild cognitive (memory) impairment or whether they may be developing dementia, in which case, the service will advise on treatment and support for the future.
What will happen at the appointment?
The initial memory assessment could take up to one and a half hours. It is important that, if you need them, you wear your hearing aids and have your reading glasses available.
We will explain what the assessment involves and go over consent and what you would like to happen if a diagnosis is made. We will discuss your symptoms regarding your memory and ask some screening questions about your physical and mental health. We will then ask you some questions to check aspects of your memory and cognitive abilities which requires some reading and writing.
If you have someone else (carer, family member or friend) present during the appointment and are agreeable, we will also ask about any concerns they may have.
If the appointment is by telephone, we will ask if we can facilitate a face-to-face appointment with one of our team at an arranged time to complete the written parts of the memory assessment and to take your pulse and blood pressure.
What happens at the end of the appointment?
At the end of the appointment, we will advise whether a follow up appointment is needed. We may discuss the likely diagnosis with you or we may refer you for a CT or MRI brain scan to help with the diagnosis if needed. This scan is likely to be at QA Hospital in Portsmouth.
If there is no problem found with your memory at this stage, you will be discharged back to your GP. If we find any other mental health or physical health diagnosis, such as depression, is contributing to your symptoms, we will ask your GP to treat this appropriately.
If we think you have mild cognitive impairment, we will offer some information and advice on this and discharge you back to your GP as this condition may remain stable. We will ask your GP to refer you back to us only if your memory gets worse over the next 12 months for a reassessment.
If we think you are developing mild dementia, depending on the type of dementia, medication may be available to help treat this, with our Memory Assessment Service starting and monitoring this initially. We will also signpost you to appropriate local support services and offer a follow up post diagnostic appointment. After this short monitoring period, you will be discharged back to the GP for further monitoring.
The referring doctor will be sent a copy of your assessment and a copy will be sent to yourself too, if you would like this. Your GP will also receive a copy if they are not the referrer.
If you are noticing problems with your memory, or the memory of someone close to you, please contact your GP in the first instance.