The Apex Dementia Clinic service aims to speed up diagnosis of dementia and streamline connections to services for patients and their families by providing:
- Excellence in interdisciplinary training, where GPs and allied health practitioners as well as medical specialists can gain skills in diagnosing dementia and supporting patients
- Outreach support and online case conferencing for clinicians across NSW
- Care coordination for people who have been diagnosed with dementia.
A comprehensive research agenda will be integrated across all three functions. The Dementia Flagship will be an element in the proposed National Comprehensive Dementia Centre (NCDC) Network, in which Mindgardens Members UNSW and SESLHD are founding partners. Geriatrician Dr Stephanie Ward, who is developing the Flagship, said, “It’s not easy to understand where to go for cognitive complaints. There is inertia and delays and the waitlists are long. It can take five years to be diagnosed and then the treatment pathways are complicated. Diagnosis is usually made in specialist memory clinics or in the context of a hospital admission.” A multidisciplinary clinic could combine geriatric medicine, neurology, old age psychiatry, neuroradiology with general practice, allied health and social work expertise. Care would be coordinated across all these functions. The multidisciplinary base would also provide more diverse opportunities for patients to participate in research, not purely in relation to cognitive function and treatments but also focused on issues that are important to quality of life, such as driving ability.