Video: what to expect

This video is an interview with our Lead Memory Support Worker Samantha Stevens and our Lead Nurse Specialist Alison Melling, who give an introduction to the Brighton and Hove Memory Assessment Service.


Video transcription

TITLE: What to do if you have concerns about memory problems

Sam: Our first advice would be to go to your GP and explain that you have noticed some memory problems and request a referral into the Memory Assessment Service. And then one of our memory support workers would give you a call and start the process of making sure that you’re getting the right support and that we can hopefully support you through your journey with the Memory Assessment Service to find out what could be causing those problems.

TITLE: What happens when you are referred to the Memory Assessment Service?

Sam: The first contact call is our first point of contact with the patient following their referral from their GP. That call is provided by a memory support worker such as myself, and it’s an opportunity for us to introduce the service to the patients, also to discuss their symptoms that they’ve been experiencing, anything that they’ve noticed with regards to their memory and also how they’ve been feeling recently.

It’s also a good opportunity for us to find out what support they have as well and if there’s anything that we feel they may need further support with. We’re able to then make referrals to different services such as adult social care.

Part of that first contact call is also to explain how the assessment process works. So we would discuss what’s involved with the assessment, what to expect at that appointment, and also what the potential outcomes of that could be. So we talk about the possible outcome of receiving a diagnosis of dementia or mild cognitive impairment and the support we can provide following that.

And then following that first contact call the next steps would be to have an assessment with one of our nurse specialist team that’s led by Alison.

TITLE: What happens in an assessment?

Alison: When people come to see me for an assessment, I try and make it as relaxed and informal as we possibly can because I’m aware that it’s anxiety provoking for people. People are very anxious or they may be quite upset. So as much as we can

I try and make it like a conversation, a chat, essentially, but I’m also gathering a lot of information as we do that.

There are specific questions that we ask everybody that we see, and also we do some quite specific memory tests and cognitive tests, which is a standard test that we use with everyone that we see, because we know that often gives us additional information on areas that a person may be struggling with.

I’ve had people say to me that they thought they might be having some sort of physical examination when they come for an assessment. And I’m relieved to reassure people that that’s definitely not the case.

I manage people’s expectations as much as I can in that at the end of the assessment, we aren’t going to draw conclusions at that appointment. It’s really just an information gathering assessment.

We really actively encourage people to bring a support with them a loved one, a relative, a carer, a friend for their own support. But it’s also really useful from our point of view for information gathering to find out if you know the person that comes along to the appointment with the patient has concerns themselves. So it’s really useful. But of course we recognise for some people they would prefer to come on their own and that’s fine.

TITLE: Will a doctor do my assessment?

Alison: We have a whole clinical team working alongside us and decisions are made by the whole team. So that would be involving our consultant, we have four GP’s that work alongside us, all the nurse team, and the memory support workers. And, you know, we meet to discuss all the assessments that we’ve done to work out the next steps, what will be best for the person as their next steps.

TITLE: Support for life if you are diagnosed with dementia

Sam: We would then provide what’s called a new care plan appointment. So that’s where we talk more in detail about the support services available locally, social activities that people might want to attend, making sure that they’re aware of any sort of financial benefits they may be entitled to, but also support for their carers, their loved ones as well, and just making sure that people have the right support or know where to go for if they want to.

We also provide a sort of ad hoc calls, so if people do have questions throughout their time with the service, we’d give them a call and just go through anything that they need to, and that can be at any time, there’s no sort of limit to those.

And for the people that are more isolated than others, we would provide welfare calls as well, so they could be sort of weekly calls fortnightly just to check in with people as and when they want us to, to see how they’re getting on.

And then we provide annual care plans. So for people that are open to our service that receive a diagnosis, we now offer lifelong support. So it’s not just a limited time, we’re there to support people for their whole journey with dementia, and we’ll do annual reviews with those people as well.

Obviously, we understand it can be quite a scary process. Sometimes it can take a while for people to come to terms with the fact that they are experiencing problems with their memory. Some people put it down to ageing. However, it can be something a little bit more serious and the earlier things like that can be diagnosed the earlier we can get you the right support and help you to live a good quality of life for as long as possible.

Alison: It’s about supporting people on what is often a really difficult journey for people and hoping that, you know, some positives can be drawn from the experience that people go through.

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