Advertising


News

New resource to help GPs manage patients with dementia


Matt Woodley


17/02/2023 5:58:47 PM

A newly launched advice service offers clinicians direct email access to psychogeriatricians and geriatricians.

GP talking to a patient with dementia
The GP Advice Service offers direct email access to psychogeriatricians and geriatricians for GPs seeking advice on treatment strategies.

Clinicians treating patients with behaviours and psychological symptoms of dementia (BPSD) can now access more direct support, following the launch of the new GP Advice Service.
 
Developed by Dementia Support Australia (DSA) with the support of the Department of Health and Aged Care, the resource offers direct email access to psychogeriatricians and geriatricians for GPs seeking advice on treatment strategies.
 
All advice is based on clinical information provided by the GP, including an overview of the patient’s presentation and history. In addition to written responses, clinicians can also provide a phone number if they prefer a call back for a one-on-one discussion.

Dr Anthony Marinucci, Chair of RACGP Specific Interests Aged Care, told newsGP the new service is a ‘welcome initiative’ that will help manage and individualise the care needs of those living with dementia complicated by BPSD.
 
‘BPSD is complex in nature and requires multidisciplinary input,’ he said.
 
‘I’m excited to hear that this new service promises to offer fast and easy access to specialist input for a busy GP workforce. 
 
‘In conjunction with other DSA services such as DBMAS [Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Service], primary care clinicians now have a wider range of support at their disposal to offer improved behavioural strategies for those people living with dementia complicated by BPSD.’
 
The most recent Dementia in Australia report found up to 472,000 Australians were living with a form of dementia in 2021, and that number is predicted to increase to one million by 2056.
 
GPs also see more than 90% of permanent aged care residents, on average around twice per month, and the Head of Dementia Professional Services Marie Alford said the new advice service has been designed to be as easy as possible for busy GPs to access.

‘We recognise that in the day-to-day work of running their practice it may not be possible for GPs to make a call or discuss a patient during normal business hours,’ Ms Alford said.

‘An email response offering clinical advice from a medical specialist is a great solution.’

The service is also aiming to provide GPs with alternative treatment options, after the recent aged care royal commission identified overuse of psychotropic medication in aged care residents as a significant issue contributing to adverse outcomes, which was influenced by the minimal training that doctors receive in BPSD management.
 
According to DSA, up to 95% of people living with dementia will experience forms of BPSD and many of them will be wrongly prescribed medications or chemically and physically restrained.

DSA Head of Clinical Services Associate Professor Steve Macfarlane said it is now generally accepted that psychotropic medications have a limited role in the management of BPSD.

‘Non-pharmacological strategies should be an important part in the management of dementia complicated by BPSD and in fact be the mainstay of treatment in most patients,’ he said.

‘We want to do all we can to support GPs to consider alternatives to these medications.’

Adverse outcomes associated with psychotropic medications in dementia include an increased risk of: 

  • death
  • falls
  • weight gain
  • hypertension and diabetes
  • aspiration
  • pneumonia
  • other respiratory conditions.
For more information on the GP Advice Service is available online.
 
Log in below to join the conversation.



aged care behaviours and psychological symptoms of dementia BPSD dementia GP Advice Service


newsGP weekly poll Would you be interested in participating in general practice advocacy?
 
59%
 
22%
 
17%
Related



newsGP weekly poll Would you be interested in participating in general practice advocacy?

Advertising

Advertising


Login to comment

Dr Jeanine Suzanne McMullan   21/02/2023 7:18:11 AM

Can we stop praising the government announcables that are designed around the premise that the Gp will access this service as unpaid overtime after a busy working day.