“I think a change so that dementia carers in particular can get help directly would be beneficial. It would free up some of our time, it would mean less bureaucracy for the carers and it would mean that patients could access help faster” Dr Matthew Stephens, Littleport GP

“I think it would be useful if every surgery had someone who specialises in dementia. We have someone who deals with asthma and another person who looks after diabetes, so it would make sense to have someone similar for dementia.” Val, Whittlesey resident

One of the challenges for dementia carers is their own health, and even how they attend a GP appointment regarding their partner’s dementia without discussing this in front of their partner, which can cause distress. It is often difficult to leave the partner who has dementia whilst the carer visits the GP.

At present dementia carers have to go to their GP and ask for a referral to the Older People Mental Health Team.  This creates an extra layer of bureaucracy.  Services need to be re-organised to make it easier for dementia carers to access them directly.

Expert advice from the Older People Mental Health team can make a real difference for those caring for a dementia sufferer.  Practical tips like the use of signs around the home can make a practical difference.  Concerns have been voiced in the past that direct access might lead to excessive demands being placed on the Older People Mental Health team, but it is time to trust dementia carers to act responsibly in their use of this service.

We call on the Cambridgeshire Clinical Commissioning Group to amend the contract that applies to the Older People Mental Health team to allow the public direct access and to structure the organisation in a way that facilitates this.