Clinical exemplars

3: Dementia

Dementia is typified by increasing memory loss and intellectual impairment that creates difficulties for patients, their families and carers, and health professionals alike. Forward planning with early referral to local memory services, involvement of family members and carers and a shared understanding of the patient’s priorities and preferences are at the core of good healthcare.

As patients lose the mental capacity to understand the decisions that are necessary for their health and social care, family and carers have to make decisions on their behalf. As capacity declines Patient Online becomes increasingly helpful.

Over 90% of patients with dementia have at least one co-morbidity with a median number of three co-morbidities for each patient. Primary care consultation rates, hospitalisation, prescribing rates and mortality increase with increasing co-morbidity. The complexity is difficult for patients and their families and carers to understand and manage. Access to Patient Online appointments, prescriptions and up-to-date information from the GP record can be invaluable to patients and carers.

This guidance describes how Patient Online can help patients with dementia understand and manage their healthcare in the face of complex multimorbidity and failing mental capacity. It also describes how Patient Online can be used to support family members and carers helping the patient as the patient loses mental capacity and how practices can provide access to their Patient Online services safely and effectively. The guidance is intended for GPs, practice nurses and other healthcare professionals involved in the care of patients living with dementia in the community.

RCGP resources

Supporting information