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Australia’s first Memory Clinic Guidelines

The Australian Dementia Network (ADNeT) has launched Australia’s first Memory and Cognition Clinic Guidelines: National Service Guidelines for Specialised Dementia and Cognitive Decline Services in Australia.

While memory and cognition clinics have operated here since the 1980s, there’s been no national standards until now.

The ADNeT-Memory Clinics team developed the guidelines in consultation with over 100 researchers, health professionals, people with dementia and care partners. The guidelines are based on overarching principles of person-centred care, equity, and respect, and contain consensus-based recommendations for best-practice service provision at Australian memory and cognition clinics. There are 14 sections, covering topics such as referral processes, modes of assessment, initial clinical interview, communicating the diagnosis, and support, advice and care post-diagnosis.

The guidelines aim to harmonise service provision and diagnostic process of Memory and Cognition Clinics across Australia and provide a framework to initiate policy changes that might be required to further raise them to international standards. The guidelines are aimed at all medical specialists, nurses, aged care workers and allied health professionals with expertise in dementia who are regularly involved in the assessment and care of people with cognitive decline and dementia as part of a multidisciplinary, specialist team. It is also applicable to clinic managers and administrators.

A recent national survey of memory and cognition clinics in Australia showed that there is currently little or no funding for post-diagnostic care. “These guidelines will help demonstrate why funding is important to not only improve patients’ quality of life but also save money by reducing the need for emergency interventions and extensive hospital stays” says co-lead researcher Professor Sharon Naismith.

“With the potential for new medication to counter the effects of dementia being approved in Australia next year, Memory and Cognition Clinics need to be as well prepared as possible,” she said.

Co-lead researcher Professor Perminder Sachdev said, “These guidelines will help to ensure that clinics across Australia provide high-quality services that result in a correct diagnosis and hopefully change a familiar and demoralising narrative that a dementia diagnosis means that person’s life is effectively over.”

A two-page version aimed at clients is also available. Access the guidelines and the client guide at https://bit.ly/3phbOzA

Professor Perminder Sachdev

Professor Sharon Naismith

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