A series of improvements and positive changes to Kirklees memory service has seen the team drastically reduce waiting times for diagnostic appointments from around 12 weeks to just three.
In 2018, the Kirklees memory services team were accredited by the Memory Services National Accreditation Programme (MSNAP), which assures patients, families and carers that the service is of a good quality and that staff are committed to improving care.
Following this, a wider service redesign led to improved response times to new referrals and the introduction of an advanced nurse practitioner (ANP) role, helping to improve treatment, access to services and care for people with dementia.
Advanced nurse practitioner Karen Greenbank, who was the first to join the team as an ANP, explained: “Before the advanced nurse practitioner role was introduced, people could be waiting weeks for an assessment, then months for a diagnosis. ANPs can assess, diagnose and treat dementia and are able to deal with some of the more straightforward cases which has freed up the time for medics to handle cases which may be more complex. It means that all our cases are dealt with quicker and more efficiently, providing a better service for everyone.
“I’m able to review the results of necessary tests such as a head scan and review bloods, which reduces the amount of time that people are waiting for a diagnosis. This in turn potentially reduces the amount of anxiety they and their loved ones feel when awaiting a diagnosis.”
In a recent survey, 85% of people said they were satisfied with the quality of care they had received from an ANP. Many people expressed satisfaction with how they were treated, the care that was given and the flexibility of the care provided.
As the ANP role is new to memory services, Karen and her colleague Dr Subha Thiyagesh were invited to present at the Royal College of Psychiatrists International Congress in London.
Karen commented: “Attending the conference meant that other people were able to see the value of the ANP role in memory services. It’s already successfully in place in a lot of general health services but we were able to demonstrate that the skills could be applied in other areas with great benefit. The results from our survey clearly identify patient and carer satisfaction when seeing an advanced nurse practitioner, highlighting the efficacy of these new roles.”
Following the success of the Kirklees service, the Trust has invested in two ANP posts in Calderdale and a further one in Kirklees memory services.