Diagnosis rates of people with dementia are continuing to improve, according to a recent study conducted by Gloucestershire’s CCG Primary Care Clinical Audit Group (PCCAG).

The audit also revealed that there has been a very positive reduction in the use of anti-psychotic drugs for patients with dementia.

All 85 of the county’s GP practices participated in the assessment, which found that formal dementia diagnosis rates are increasing every year and are well above the national average.

Rates have risen from 36% to 53% over the past two years against the expected prevalence for our county, which, based on the size of our population, the Department of Health has calculated should be 8,260 people. There are currently 4,389 patients diagnosed with dementia in Gloucestershire.

Dr Hein Le Roux, Clinical Lead for Dementia with NHS Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:

“Dementia can be difficult to diagnose, especially when symptoms are mild.

However, reaching an early diagnosis can make a huge difference in helping someone stay independent for longer. It gives people, and their families, the best chance to prepare and plan for the future and receive any treatment that may be possible.

Raising awareness and improving understanding of dementia is a key priority for the CCG, and we are continuing to work hard to keep improving diagnoses rates.”

The reduction in the use of antipsychotic drugs is also very positive. These drugs are sometimes needed for the management of behavioural and psychological symptoms in dementia. However, in some cases, they can cause major problems for people with dementia and their carers, and their prolonged use has been shown to increase the risk of strokes and mortality.
Dr Le Roux added: “There are a range of non-pharmacological initiatives in Gloucestershire to support people who have dementia keep well at home and in their communities and reduce the risks associated with the long-term use of anti-psychotic medications. These include, for example, Managing Memory 2gether, which offers carers dementia-specific support and education, and the Community Dementia Nurse service, which provides specialist nursing support to patients with complex needs.”

Organisations such as the Alzheimer’s Society provide a range of other community-based support, such as Memory Cafes and Dementia Advisors, who provide non-clinical signposting and information.

Councillor Andrew Gravells, Cabinet Member for Older People at Gloucestershire County Council said:

“This is good news and very positive progress. It marks a significant step towards us making a real difference to the lives of people who are affected by dementia.

Receiving a diagnosis enables people to access the support they need to live well. There are a range of initiatives across the county providing help and support, and we are working hard to expand and develop this network.”