Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease: issues around working partnership between carers and psychiatrists is the title of the new Partners in Care campaign leaflet. It has a dual purpose, in that it is written both for carers and for professionals.
Partners in Care is a year-long joint campaign between the Royal College of Psychiatrists and The Princess Royal Trust for Carers (2004). One of the aims of the campaign is to show that if all those involved in the care of people with mental health problems or learning disabilities can work together, a trusting partnership can develop between carers, patients and professionals that will be of benefit to all.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease has been prepared jointly by professionals and carers of people with dementia. It suggests ways of improving communication and partnerships when the person being cared for has first been diagnosed.
The first section of the leaflet is aimed at the carer, providing information about the disease; early changes that can be expected in the person’s behaviour; carers’ concerns and feelings at this early stage; and tips for carers about working in partnership with their doctor and members of the mental health team.
The leaflet also provides a helpful checklist of questions to ask the doctor, and offers advice on preparing for follow-up visits. For example, it encourages carers to take notes during their visit to the doctor, and to tell him or her what they have understood during the consultation.
If carers find that their doctor is unwilling to involve them, the leaflet suggests steps that can be taken, such as talking to other members of the mental health team, and other carers. The leaflet also reminds carers to take care of themselves. ‘Don’t bottle you feelings up – there is nothing wrong with a good cry’.
Information for the professional takes the form of a checklist of questions doctors should ask themselves when consulting with patients and their carers. These include best practice when carrying out an initial assessment; allowing enough time to ‘listen, ask, listen’; and providing sufficient information for the carer when managing the patient.
A useful list of points to remember for the professional includes advice such as sending the carer a copy of any letters written to the patient’s GP, and giving a telephone number so that the carer can make contact if they have further questions.
The leaflet also provides contact details for the Alzheimer’s Society and the Dementia Relief Trust.
For copies of the leaflet and details of other materials produced by the Partners in Care campaign, please contact the External Affairs Department, Royal College of Psychiatrists, 17 Belgrave Square, London SW1X 8PG. Tel: 020 7235 2351 exts 127 or 131; e-mail [email protected]k or [email protected]