The Importance of Early Detection and Diagnosis of Mental Health Conditions, Dementia and Learning Disabilities

An early diagnosis benefits the individual and their family and friends. It can support them to put steps in place to maximise their quality of life. The diagnosis will:

Clear up uncertainty:-

It can be upsetting living with symptoms like memory loss and changes in personality, particularly if you don’t understand why they are happening. As there are a number of conditions that have similar symptoms it is important that an accurate diagnosis is made. Whilst this can be difficult to hear it can clear up uncertainty and help someone feel more in control. Early diagnosis or a condition can clear up an uncertainty, allow the individual to come to terms with any condition they have and learn more about how it might affect them.

Help the individual and their family and friends to plan:-

Planning for the future provides opportunity to consider, discuss and record wishes and decisions. This is known as advance care planning; the individual makes plans about what they wish to happen while they are most able to be involved and make decisions. Delay in diagnosing any condition may also have an adverse effect of the person’s family as well as the person. The family may have the stress of coping with having to battle with agencies as well as adjust to a person’s care requirements.

Identify possible treatments and therapies:-

An individual may want to consider taking medication such as anti-dementia drugs or anti depressants. They may also benefit from therapies such as counselling or cognitive behaviour therapy.

Provide the right information, resources and support.

Through accessing information at an early stage someone can make best use of what is available such as support groups. They can also identify financial support that they may be entitled to. It can also prevent individuals being sent to the wrong services. In some cases individuals are misunderstood and labelled as having challenging behaviour rather than their condition. Early detection of dementia allows individuals to plan for a time where loss of memory might affect them. E.g. creating family albums so that the person can remember the names of people should they forget.

Protect the person

People with mental ill health, dementia and learning disabilities are more vulnerable to the risk of abuse and need to be protected.

Use to answer question 9.4a of the Care Certificate

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