Different care professionals you will meet
You will see professionals in a range of places, including hospitals and your home. Some will be NHS health professionals, including doctors and nurses. Others will be 'allied’ health professionals, such as dentists.
You might also receive help from social care professionals. These are usually arranged through your local council.
You will receive care from a number of different doctors following a dementia diagnosis, including your own GP and various specialists.
General practitioners (GPs)
Your GP is your first point of contact if you have any concerns about your health. They will lead the team looking after your overall health. Your GP will refer you to any other professionals, such as specialists or nurses. You can see your GP in their surgery, or they might visit your home, if needed.
Your GP can:
- talk to you about your dementia and any other medical problems
- carry out a physical examination
- arrange further tests
- review any treatments you’re receiving
Consultants are doctors who have had years of training and experience in a specific area. If you need to see a consultant, your GP will arrange this and you’ll see them at a hospital. The consultant you see will depend on your needs, age and the services available in your area.
The consultants you might be referred to include:
- neurologists – specialists in the brain and nervous system, some neurologists have particular experience of dementia
- psychiatrists – you might see a psychiatrist to make sure your mental health is cared for – if you’re over 65, you might see a specialist old age psychiatrist
- geriatricians – specialists in the care of older people and the conditions and disabilities associated with old age
- clinical psychologists – these are not medical doctors – the assess memory, learning disabilities and other skills, they also offer support coping with any problems you might be experiencing
As well as doctors, you will also receive care from a number of nurses, including:
- community mental health nurses – provide treatment, care and support for people with mental health problems and dementia, hey do no usually carry out physical nursing tasks
- district or community nurses – have had extra training in nursing people at home and are based at a GP surgery – they can help you with things like taking medication and dressing wounds
- practice nurses – carry out a range of activities within a GP practice such as flu jabs and check-ups – the carry out general treatments, run clinics and look after patients with ongoing illnesses
Allied health professionals
You may see other professionals for help with specific areas of physical health.
They might see you in your home, care home or hospital and can include:
- occupational therapists – can advise you on maintaining skills and living independently for as long as possible, they can also advise you about how technology and home adaptations can help you
- physiotherapists – can help with exercise and moving around and can advise carers on helping someone stay active safely
- chiropodists – are trained to look after people’s feet and advise on proper foot care
- optometrists – problems with sight and can make you more confused, so it’s important to get your eyes checked regularly
- audiologists – hearing problems can make you more confused, an audiologist can check for hearing problems and fit a hearing aid
- speech and language therapists – can advise you and your carer on ways of communicating more effectively and on managing any difficulty swallowing
- music therapists – will engage you in shared musical experiences through singing, listening or making music to help with symptoms of anxiety or restlessness
- dentists – you should get dental advice soon after a diagnosis as treatment can become more difficult as symptoms progress
- dieticians – can advise you to eat, tell you about poor appetite, weight loss, weight gain, vitamins and food supplements
- continence advisors – if you have problems using the toilet, a continence advisor can off helpful advice and give you information on useful equipment such as commodes and incontinence pads
Social care professionals
Social care professionals can help you with personal social care and non-medical support. This could include an assessment by a social worker to provide help and support at home with dressing or bathing, social activities, day care or respite.
A social worker will usually assess your needs and ask about your income and savings. This will help them decide what services you can receive and how much you have to pay towards them.
A social worker will also carry out a carer’s assessment. This enables the unpaid carer to discuss the help they need to support the person with dementia and maintain their own health and wellbeing. This can help the carer find a balance between their caring responsibilities, work and other aspects of their life.
The social worker might also be able to direct you to other organisations which can provide information, help and support.
Social care workers
Social care workers work in different roles as domiciliary care workers I your own home, day care workers or in care homes. They can help you with your personal care as well as your emotional and care needs.
For more information about the services available and how to access social care, you can contact your local Health and Social Care Trust;
Where to find help and support
You can find more information and support services from the following organisations, see also ‘more useful links section’:
The Public Health Agency has also produced a range of information to help support people with a dementia, their families and friends.
This information includes the following publications:
- Ten common signs of dementia
- Early stages of dementia
- Communicating effectively with a person living with dementia
- Are you worried about dementia?
Dementia apps library
The ‘Apps4Dementia’ library is a digital service which groups together safe, trusted apps to provide information and guidance on the condition.
There a number of apps that offer support, self-care of symptoms and enable users to carry on with their day-to-day activities for as long as possible.