by Nicola Payne, Best Practice Manager
When I heard that this year’s theme for World Alzheimer’s Month was risk reduction I immediately wanted to focus on one thing: the importance of committing 100% to recording a person’s health on a daily basis. This means always being consistent and thorough.
Why daily health recording is important
Recording someone’s health in detail will create evidence that something has changed or isn't right for that person.
I know from many years of trying to record a person’s health that it isn’t always easy. Not having the right health recording system in place was a hurdle we had to overcome at MacIntyre.
Fair access to health care
MacIntyre wants everyone to have fair access to health care and to receive a diagnosis of a health condition in a timely way. It is never too late to change practice and make small changes that will have a big impact.
Barriers for people with learning disabilities
People with learning disabilities and dementia can be:
- Less likely to participate in national screening programs
- Misunderstood as people see the disability/condition and not the person
- More likely to have their health needs ignored by some health professionals
- More likely to face barriers when accessing health care services
This needs to change! We want to start to see more people attending screenings and not be seen as any different from the general population.
Using the Care Calendar
MacIntyre proudly uses this resource. We are can capture someone’s details and know that the calendar will highlight a need for intervention from a health professional.
It’s extremely important that a person's health changes are not mistaken for their learning disability. This is commonly known as diagnostic overshadowing.
Establishing a baseline
What I love about the health calendar is the baseline health assessment.
Having a detailed baseline health assessment will paint a rich picture of what is usual for a person. Having a completed baseline health assessment will show you what is usual for someone and flag up when things change.
These can be small changes that could otherwise go unnoticed and unfortunately more often than not lead to a bigger problem.
If we have detailed daily and consistent health records for someone suspected to have dementia, we have the evidence that a health professional needs when they first request it.
Straight away you will be steps ahead in the process of receiving a timely diagnosis of dementia.
Dementia can be hard to detect
Dementia is hard to detect at the best of times and I know people with learning disabilities or autistic people can have more of a challenge getting the right support from health professionals.
Someone living with dementia and a learning disability needs timely support with what can be subtle changes or very big changes in their day-to-day lives.
We all need to work together to break down barriers and support people to have a positive health care experience.
The care calendar will help with communication too, which at times the person may find difficult.
Requesting reasonable adjustments
We need to be aware of what a reasonable adjustment is and have the confidence to request these when needed.
- an appointment at home away from a busy doctor's surgery
- the first appointment of the day
- accessible information so it's easier to understand.
Living well with dementia
Dementia gets progressively worse over time but we want to see more people living their lives in the best way they possibly can and receiving the best care and support for everyone in a way that makes sense to them.
If you are supporting someone who you feel may have dementia, go and take a look at how you are capturing changes. If it doesn’t feel right then adapt your practice. Even small changes can have such a positive impact for people