Grampians ML launches dementia pathways tool

Victoria's Grampians Medicare Local has officially launched a dementia pathways tool for GPs and nurses involving a web-based repository of a range of localised information and resources to help enhance assessments and referrals for people with dementia.

Health pathways in the primary care sector are an increasingly popular tool to help clinicians – particularly GPs but also practice and community nurses, hospital specialists and allied health providers – to link patients to local services and specialists. They can also contain evidence-based symptom outlines and management options.

In Australia, official HealthPathways based on the Canterbury Initiative in NZ have been pioneered by the Hunter New England Local Health District and Hunter Urban Medical Local, which now has over 130 localised pathways now on its clinician-only site. They are also being introduced in Sydney through the Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) and the Western Sydney Medicare Local (WSML) and by Barwon Medicare Local in Victoria.

The Grampians pathway for dementia is not restricted to GPs only and has been developed by the Victorian Department of Health in collaboration with the University of Ballarat's Centre for eCommerce and Communications (CECC), which developed the software component of the pathway.

According to Grampians Medicare Local, the development of the content has been overseen by Deakin University's Associate Professor Mark Yates and his team at the Cognitive, Dementia and Memory Service (CDAMS) clinic at Ballarat Health Services.

The interactive pathway is designed to assist GPs with early intervention, diagnosis and ongoing management of patients with dementia. It promotes positive awareness of the first signs and symptoms of dementia, assessment and investigation of suspected dementia and the importance of linking people with dementia and their carers to appropriate community services.

According to Grampians region dementia project officer Carolyn Gargiulo, there are currently 3600 people currently living with dementia in the area, with that figure set to rise to over 12,000 by the year 2050.

“This tool will provide a valuable resource for all primary healthcare professionals in the region to enable the best possible care and support for people with suspected cognitive change and people living with dementia and their families,” she said.

In addition to providing a host of information on local services such as clinical assessment and referral services, government-funded aged care programs like the HACC Living at Home Assessment and Aged Care Assessment Service, and respite and carer support groups, the pathway is designed to assist GPs with early intervention, diagnosis and ongoing management of patients with dementia.

It also provides evidence-based advice and guidance on areas such as pharmacological interventions and palliative care and end-of-life care planning.

It also has links to downloads of common assessment tools such as the Abbey Pain Scale, Confusion Assessment Method (CAM) diagnostic algorithm, and the General Practitioner Assessment of Cognition (GPCOG) tool.

Posted in Aged Care

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