A new clinical pathway provides health workers with clear guidelines to help and advise dementia patients who still drive.
The pathway was developed by assistant psychologist Kirsty Carter and Dr John-Paul Taylor from Newcastle University. They will present their work today, Thursday 11 April 2013, at the British Psychological Society Annual Conference in Harrogate.
In the UK 1 in 14 people over the age of 65, and 1 in 6 people over the age of 80, have a diagnosis of dementia. This is set to rise by 2025 to over one million people in the UK. Many patients who receive a diagnosis of dementia continue to drive with numbers estimated at over 40 per cent. Although key guidelines have been issued for dementia these have failed to satisfactorily address the issue of driving, and offer no supporting guidance for health professionals.
The new pathway provides health workers with comprehensive guidance on how to approach and discuss the issue with patients diagnosed with dementia. It includes discussing the risks of continuing to drive and whether patients have experienced any severe mental impairments, such as short-term memory problems and disorientation that may affect driving. It also sets out what to do if the patient continues to drive without informing the DVLA of their current situation.
Kirsty Carter explained: "The pathway was constructed by an experienced multidisciplinary clinical team based in a busy Memory Assessment Service. We also sought input and refinement via surveys and small group meetings with individuals from a wide range of regional networks and diverse clinical backgrounds, as well as discussion with mobility centres and the DVLA.
'We are really pleased with how well the pathway has been received, by both clinical colleagues and external stakeholders, such as the forum of mobility centres and by patient groups. Psychologists across the UK have expressed interests in adopting the pathway into practice so it has the possibility of being widely disseminated. Feedback has been immensely positive, especially in regards to providing a clear direction in the management of patients with dementia who drive."
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