A toolkit which is aimed at clinicians responsible for assessing and diagnosing patients with dementia, has just been launched by a team of researchers at Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (SPfT), and Brighton and Sussex Medical School.

Co-designed and co-produced by clinicians, researchers, and people with lived experience of dementia, including carers, and funded by the University of Sussex Higher Education Innovation Fund, the resources include: a remote memory assessment toolkit, a patient video, and an information leaflet.

The toolkit is the output from a study funded by NIHR Applied Research Collaboration Kent, Surrey and Sussex (ARC KSS) which aimed to understand patient, carer and clinician satisfaction with and experience of receiving or undertaking memory assessment, during the Covid-19 pandemic.

There were high levels of satisfaction with remote memory assessment pathway for patients, carers, and clinicians. Key research messages include:

  • Remote appointments are an effective way to provide choice and to deliver memory assessment services.
  • Video conferencing where patients and clinicians can ‘see ‘each other, has advantages and higher satisfaction for both patients and clinicians compared to telephone appointments.
  • The clinician interpersonal skills are even more important when working remotely than in face to face appointments.
  • Advantages for offering remote memory assessments extend beyond COVID-19 (including avoidance of travel, convenience and involvement of carers living remotely including overseas).
  • Some memory assessment tools are more adaptable to remote assessment than others.

Dr Gosia Raczek from Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, who led the research said:

"During the Covid-19 outbreak, memory assessment services, which are responsible for assessing and diagnosing dementia, had to find ways to deliver services for patients in ways that did not need to be face to face.

"Our study, which evaluated patient, carer and clinician experiences of remote memory assessment services in Sussex, Surrey and South London reveals how remote pathways can be an acceptable alternative to face-to-face. Our findings show how older people or those with cognitive difficulties, can engage with technology, with the right support."

The toolkit, which includes information and recommendations has been specifically designed to illustrate and guide good practice principles for memory assessment services now and in the future. It has been designed so that it can be adapted locally, including for memory assessment undertaken in primary care.

The Resources available include:

Recite Me Accessibility Tools