Nurses must receive more education and training in identifying dementia, if care is to improve in line with the increasing prevalence of the condition, according to a group of MPs.
People with dementia are currently facing “shocking variations” in the time it takes for them to receive a diagnosis, a report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia said last week.
The report – “Unlocking Diagnosis: The key to improving the lives of people with dementia” – draws together 1,100 pieces of evidence submitted to the group’s inquiry into dementia diagnosis.
In particular, it called for more investment in “memory services”, which offer a comprehensive assessment to determine whether someone has dementia. However, it also highlighted gaps in the knowledge of many health professionals on dementia diagnosis, especially in primary care.
The MPs recommended that all health professionals “working in a general capacity with people at risk of dementia should have pre- and post-registration training in identifying and understanding dementia”.
It stated: “The group received evidence that all ‘generalist’ health professionals, such as GPs, geriatricians, wider primary care teams, ward nurses and care assistants, who are involved in the general care of people with dementia, needed more specific training on dementia and dementia diagnosis.”
One nurse who submitted evidence to the inquiry was quoted as saying: “We didn’t have training as part of the student nurse curriculum. [It] should be mandatory for all nurses.”
The charity Dementia UK, which operates the Admiral Nurse service, said basing more specialist nurses with primary care teams would make a “huge difference to diagnosis rates” and give practice staff “specialist expertise on hand to refer to”.