Bringing a family member

GP Dr Vicky Fakhoury recommends bringing a family member or friend with you for the first visit to the GP

Professor June Andrews comments…

It used to be that doctors were rather overzealous about privacy for patients, not realising how important it is for other family members to be involved in working out what is wrong and planning how to help.

A family member can tell the health and social care services about things that have been going wrong which the person with dementia might not realise or might not bring up in an interview.  It really helps for everyone to understand the situation that they are going to have to live with.  So if possible, don’t go alone.

Often someone will say, “I’m not her ‘carer’!  I’m her husband.  Don’t label me that way.”  To be practical, many of the benefits and rights, including rights to information,  to which you are entitled depend on you being identified as the “carer”, so there is some advantage in accepting that name, even if it feels strange.  You’ve entered a strange new world, with its own jargon.

The carer’s organisation VOCAL, based in Edinburgh, has an excellent website that is of use no matter where you live, though the legislation referred to applies in some cases only in Scotland.

The Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland provides guidance on the involvement of carers, citing the General Medical Council advice that doctors should listen to carers, even if the patient cannot, or has not consented, because this might help the doctor to care for the patient. They should not refuse on the grounds of confidentiality.

Reviewed March 1, 2019

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