Resources for GPs

4. Dementia friendly GP practices

People with dementia and their carers should be able to access general practice and receive the best quality care and support. Working with people with dementia and carers, as well as staff in GP practices, we’ve developed guidance on what should be in place to help ensure this. We are currently working with a number of GP practices to pilot using this guidance. 

Why is general practice important for people with dementia?

General practice often acts as a gatekeeper for key aspects of care for people with dementia. For many it is the GP practice that opens the door to information, support and planning; GPs often provide the information and signposting needed to access support; and GPs hold responsibility for care plans and reviews for ongoing management.

It is therefore ever more important that the systems and processes of general practice are geared up to support people with dementia.

What challenges are currently experienced by people with dementia in accessing general practice?

People with dementia can struggle with remembering to attend appointments, navigating the physical environment of the practice, expressing their concerns in the short time available with the GP, and recalling details of discussions regarding their care. They also often find that they do not receive information on support available, and do not receive reviews of their care as needs change.

This can result in missed appointments, repeat appointments, and people not getting the support and care they need to live well and manage dementia and any co-morbidities. This impacts not only on quality of life and health for the person with dementia now and in the future, but can also have an impact on usage of primary care, emergency admissions to hospitals, and transition to residential care.

What are the benefits for general practice in becoming dementia friendly?

A dementia friendly general practice has benefits including:

  • Improving quality of care and support for people with dementia
  • Improving quality of care and support for other patient cohorts
  • Supporting national frameworks and standards for dementia including the NHS England Well Pathway and the CCG Improvement and Assessment Framework
  • Supporting key lines of enquiry of the Care Quality Commission
  • Reducing missed appointments and repeat appointments
  • Increasing dementia awareness and understanding for all practice staff, as well as contributing to personal development and job satisfaction

What is involved in developing dementia friendly general practice and what support is provided?

  • An awareness session for all staff.

  • Using a checklist to identify changes that can be made within your practice to better support people with dementia. 

  • Accessing a range of free resources from Alzheimer’s Society.

We will be sharing further details of this new guidance once the pilot work is complete. If you have any questions about dementia friendly GP practices, you can contact us at dfgp@alzheimers.org.uk