Enhancing Dementia Care: A Primary Care-Based Memory Clinic
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Memory clinics have been promoted as opportunities for improving dementia diagnosis and care. This article describes the implementation of an interdisciplinary memory clinic within primary care in Ontario, Canada, that aims to provide timely access to comprehensive assessment and care and to improve referring physicians' knowledge of the management of dementia through collaborative care and practice-based mentorship. Between July 2006 and September 2009, 246 initial and follow-up assessments were conducted with 151 patients, a high proportion of whom received a new diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment (44.4%) or dementia (19.2%). A trial of cholinesterase inhibitors was recommended for almost all patients newly diagnosed with dementia. Management interventions and recommendations included social worker outreach, long-term care planning, home safety or driving assessments, referral to community resources, and periodic follow-up and monitoring. A small proportion of patients (7.8%) were referred to a specialist. Surveyed patients and caregivers were very satisfied with their visit to the clinic. A chart audit conducted by two independent geriatricians indicated agreement with diagnosis and intervention, particularly related to use of specialists. The results indicate that memory clinics within primary care settings can support capacity building to ensure quality assessment and management of dementia at a primary care level.
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