Integrating community services into primary care: improving the quality of dementia care
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AIM: The purpose of this study was to describe the impact associated with a unique partnership between the Alzheimer's Society (AS) and primary care-based memory clinics, and in particular to describe the impact on access to community-based services, the role of the AS in these clinics and to identify key lessons learned in partnership formation. PARTICIPANTS & METHODS: A total of 35 memory clinic healthcare providers and nine AS representatives completed a survey assessing the impacts of this partnership, and 25 memory clinic members and 11 AS representatives were interviewed regarding the implementation and outcomes of this partnership. The number of referrals to the AS from the participating primary care settings in the 6 months prior to and following the formation of this partnership were collected. RESULTS: There was a fivefold increase in referrals to the AS in the 6 months following the launch of this partnership. Other identified impacts included improved care integration and coordination across community and primary care sectors, improved access to information and community supports at the time of diagnosis, and increased healthcare provider awareness of available community services. AS representatives assumed various roles in the clinic depending on available resources and existing gaps. Some key lessons were learnt in order to support the implementation of this partnership in other jurisdictions. CONCLUSION: This partnership was perceived as a significant quality improvement opportunity to better meet the needs of individuals with dementia and their caregivers, and highlights the importance of the integration of community agencies in primary care to improve access to community services.
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