Developing Memory Clinics in Primary Care: An Evidence-Based Interprofessional Program of Continuing Professional Development
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INTRODUCTION: Primary care is challenged to meet the needs of patients with dementia. A training program was developed to increase capacity for dementia care through the development of Family Health Team (FHT)-based interprofessional memory clinics. The interprofessional training program consisted of a 2-day workshop, 1-day observership, and 2-day mentorship program. METHODS: An online survey was completed by participants prior to the training workshop and a similar survey at least 6 months following completion of the program to measure perceived changes related to knowledge, ability, and confidence to assess and manage memory problems, and comfort in speaking to patients and caregivers about concerns regarding dementia. Participants also completed a paper-based reaction survey at the end of the workshop and observership day. RESULTS: Twenty-two FHTs, with 124 health professionals, participated in this program. At follow-up there were statistically significant increases in self-reported knowledge of and ability to assess and manage cognitive impairment, confidence, comfort level in speaking to patients about memory problems, and the ability of participants' FHT to manage cognitive impairment independently. Engagement in dementia care practice activities increased following the program. All but one FHT successfully formed a memory clinic. DISCUSSION: This training program represents a significant opportunity to bring about evidence-based practice change through a capacity development initiative to support primary care providers to maintain the majority of dementia care within primary care practice. The provision of practical knowledge and resources and incorporating best teaching practices to maximize knowledge transfer contributed to the success of this program.