Guidelines for picking up warning signs of elder abuse are included in a new resource to help GPs and primary care workers recognise and manage dementia in the community.
The resource, People with dementia: A care guide for general practice was developed a team of experts who say there’s a need to address the lack of guidance for primary care on managing the condition.
“This resource has been written by a team that includes GPs, primary care nurses, psychologists, a neuropsychiatrist and a researcher with expertise in multidisciplinary teamwork, as well as subspecialists in the topics covered,” says the University of Newcastle’s Professor Dimity Pond.
“It will provide information that is grounded and accessible for busy primary care practitioners, with flowcharts included to illustrate the pathway of care”.
Picking up elder abuse
The guide says while there is no “gold standard” method for identifying elder abuse, looking out for signs, symptoms and risk factors for abuse can help GPs, nurses and other primary carers broach the topic and assess for harm.
It recommends proactive management of risks by GPS and primary carers as part of a comprehensive care plan and stresses the need for clear documentation of risks, signs and symptoms of abuse.
It also notes that while it isn’t mandatory to report elder abuse in Australia, “the decision to voluntarily report abuse and intervene should prioritise, where possible, the expressed wishes of the older person.”
People involved in caring for a loved one with dementia also contributed to the guide, which was launched by the Cognitive Decline Partnership Centre at the Australasian Association of Gerontology Conference in November.
One of these is Joan Jackson, who cares for her husband, who believes it will help support an informed, relevant and responsive approach to diagnosis and care.
“It is a welcome addition to supporting the important front-line role of GPs, for people needing guidance and support when this condition becomes part of their lives,” she said.
The resource addresses six priority topics that a GP or primary care worker is likely to encounter.
- Communication during diagnosis and consutations
- Caring for people with dementia
- Identifying and screening for elder abuse
- Preventing dementia
- Supporting carers