An innovative tool for diagnosing memory conditions, pioneered by South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, has been shortlisted at a national awards which recognise and reward projects and professionals that lead innovative healthcare practice.
The Visual Memory Assessment Tool (V-MAT), which is designed to obtain a more accurate assessment of people with anything from mild cognitive impairment to dementia who also have sensory impairments, was shortlisted at the Advancing Healthcare Awards 2015 in the ‘Public Health England Award for contributions to public health’ category.
The V-MAT is a simple tool which helps to transform the diagnosis of memory problems in people with communication difficulties such as hearing impairment or dysphasia by using visual aids.
V-MAT allows healthcare professionals to complete a thorough assessment by enabling the person to read questions and point to answers, giving them the chance to communicate their answers in a more appropriate way for their needs.
It was shortlisted at the awards after the project leaders, Annette Purves and Kath Mashinter, demonstrated how they showed leadership and partnership working to deliver effective health improvement interventions with the potential to be used at scale, and considered Public Health England priorities.
Annette, a specialist occupational therapist with the Kirklees memory service at the Trust, said: “We were delighted when we found out V-MAT had been shortlisted for the awards. Often, people with a sensory impairment receive a service that is ineffective, time-consuming and anxiety provoking. In using V-MAT, we can offer a more accurate cognitive assessment that is considerate of the patients’ needs.
“V-MAT has not only benefitted the person being assessed, but also their carers and loved ones who now have a better insight into their functioning and intellectual abilities. Using the tool means we now have a standardised way of assessing people with sensory impairments, and we’re really pleased that the effectiveness of V-MAT has been recognised on this scale.”
V-MAT has previously won a Medipex NHS Innovation Award in 2012, where it received praise for enabling more accurate prescribing of medication and improving patient privacy, dignity, confidence and participation.