19 December 2016

Supporting Service Users with Dementia – East London Memory Services Clinic QI Project

By Marco Aurelio, QI Lead 

With a growing elderly population, the Alzheimer’s society now estimates that around 850,000 people in the UK are now living with a diagnosis of dementia. Within East London, the work of the Dementia Memory Services clinics in Tower Hamlets, City & Hackney and Newham are vital in helping support the over 65 population receive the care they need. An important step in helping tackle dementia is to make sure that people have easy access to services, improving the likelihood of receiving right care at the right time and right place.

In March 2016 East London Memory Services began a project to improve access to services for users, focusing on reducing waiting times for first appointments and appointment DNA rates. Although an important part of QI is learning through testing changes in small cycles, the team decided that they needed to undertake technical steps to harmonize work across the three boroughs. Here they developed new regular data reports, looked at team work planning, standardized procedures across the patch and appointed a new lead admin.  Next, the team began testing a number of different change ideas in continuous improvement cycles known as Plan-Do-Study-Act cycles.

As a member of the Trust Access To Services learning system, the team knew colleagues from other parts of the organization had successfully reduced DNA rates by introducing text message reminders. Here service users are sent a reminder a few days before their appointment via their mobile phone.  With this in mind, the project team worked with the wider team to plan how to successfully carry this out.  Using learning from their QI training the team knew the importance of testing in a small area and started this in Tower Hamlets.

Sending a text message reminder can reduce the percantage of non attendance to appointments

The chart below demonstrates the team’s performance around DNA’s, showing there has been a 23% reduction during the time the project has been running. Importantly the introduction of text message reminders looks to have contributed to this, highlighting the introduction of a successful change idea for the team.  In other areas the team have also seen a fantastic improvement in average waiting time from referral to first assessment with a 45% reduction across the three boroughs

What’s next for Memory Services?

Adopting a QI approach has allowed the team to learn a lot about their processes and systems, and begin to think about other ideas that could be tested. Next steps for the project team to roll out text message reminders to Newham and City & Hackney, as well as test a new electronic GP referral form.

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