New dementia clinic will reduce diagnosis time

Dementia sufferers’ lives will become easier when a new memory clinic is built in south west Sydney next year.

Sufferers often have to travel to multiple locations to visit their specialists including geriatricians, neurologists, psychiatrists, dietitians and more.

That will no longer be the case when the clinic is built.

The clinic will house the specialists and health professionals in one place.

According to Western Sydney University, suburbs such as Camden, Campbelltown and Macquarie Fields will see up to a 460 per cent rise in the number of dementia diagnoses by 2050.

Campbelltown Hospital’s geriatrician specialist Dr Mark Hohenberg said dementia was an “epidemic” in the region and therefore the south west was the ideal place to build the clinic.

However, the exact location of the site is yet to be determined.

Western Sydney University dementia researcher, Dr Genevieve Steiner, said the clinic was a “one-stop-shop” for dementia diagnosis and care.

“We are aiming to build a region-first clinic, taking a multidisciplinary approach to dementia diagnosis and care that would be a flagship model of care for the nation,” she said.

Dr Steiner said the clinic was designed to decrease the time taken to diagnose a patient with dementia.

“It can take almost up to five years from the time symptoms are noticed to the time of diagnosis,” she said.

“Often patients come into hospital who have not been diagnosed so it can take some time to plan for care, including finding a nursing home placement.

“It is a sad state of affairs.

“We ideally hope the clinic will reduce the five-year diagnosis time to under a year.

“The clinic will also help the patient and carers plan for the future to be at home and enhance their quality of life.”

Dr Steiner said the clinic will also provide ongoing care as the patient deteriorates.

Dr Hohenberg said age was the biggest risk factor in developing dementia followed by low levels of education which can lead to further health concerns such as diabetes and cardiovascular problems.

He said the clinic would provide holistic care for the patient and support for carers.

“Our team will not just focus on the medical care, but also the overall wellbeing of our patients, carers and families,” Dr Hohenberg said.

“The care plans will allow patients to remain independent in their homes for longer and will dramatically reduce both presentations to hospital for patients with dementia, as well as the time required in hospital to manage medical and social complications.”