There are many professionals involved in dementia care and it can be very confusing and intimidating for the person living with dementia and their carers. Below is a summary of the various roles and responsibilities of those involved in dementia care.
General Practitioner (GP)
A GP is the first port of call if you are worried about your health, including concerns about dementia. Your GP is the person who is responsible for your overall health and will know about any other health conditions you may have.
When diagnosing dementia your GP will carry out a number of tests to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms. If the GP is concerned that dementia may be the cause he will make a referral to a specialist.
Consultants are doctors who specialise in a particular area. Depending on your age, symptoms and where you live you may be referred to either:
- A consultant psychiatrist who diagnose and treat mental illness.
- A geriatrician, who specialise in the care of older people.
- A neurologist who specialise in the brain and nervous system and have a more in-depth knowledge of rarer types of dementia.
Clinical psychologists are not medical doctors. They assess memory, learning abilities and other skills and offer support to cope with any difficulties you may be experiencing, such as anxiety or mental distress.
Community psychiatric nurse (CPNs)
CPNs also known as community mental health nurses, provide help and support for those living with mental health illnesses including dementia. CPNs can provide practical help and support to improve your health and quality of life.
Admiral Nurses are nurses who specialise in dementia care and support.
Approved Mental Health Professionals (AMHPs)
AMHPs (used to be known as Approved social worker (ASW)) have received specialised training to help and support people who are being treated under the Mental Health Act. Their roles include helping to assess whether a person needs to be sectioned and ensuring that their rights are been upheld.
Independent mental capacity advocate (IMCA)
IMCAs was a role created with the introduction of the mental capacity act of 2005 and are a statutory safeguard for people who lack capacity to make some important decisions. This includes decisions about where the person lives and serious medical treatment when the person does not have family or friends who can represent them.
Relevant person’s representative (RPR)
If a person is being detained under the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) now replaced with the Liberty Protection Safeguards (LPS) then a relevant person’s representative (RPR) is appointed to maintain contact with the relevant person i.e. the person with dementia, and to represent and support the relevant person in all matters relating to the DoLS.
Professionals involved in Mum’s care
Once we became concerned that Mum may have dementia we visited her GP. He carried out a number of tests including a memory test and he then referred her to a consultant psychiatrist, who made the diagnosis of dementia. Mum remained assigned to the consultant psychiatrist and was also assigned a community psychiatric nurse (CPN) and an approved social worker (ASW).
Once Mum was living in the care home and was granted a Deprivation of Liberty authorisation, I became her relevant person’s representative.