Tallaght Hospital Combatting Dementia with Innovative New Service

Hospital Memory Clinic provides a multidisciplinary approach that aims to diagnose dementia as early as soon as possible

Service is invaluable for rapidly aging local population, as highlighted by the 2014 Health Assets and Needs Assessment Report

April 19th 2016 Tallaght Hospital’s new Memory Clinic is leading the way in providing invaluable dementia services, which emphasises a timely diagnosis of dementia or identifying those most at risk as early as possible in the course of the disease. Dementia is a term which describes a range of conditions which cause damage to our brain. This damage affects memory, thinking, language and our ability to perform everyday tasks. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia. While current therapies offer modest benefits to those already living with dementia, a timely diagnosis maximises treatment possibilities, and facilitates support and care planning for people living with dementia and those close to them. Future disease-modifying therapies are likely to be most beneficial if administered early in the course of the disease.

The Memory Clinic, which opened in January of this year, aims to address the local health challenges identified by the 2001 and 2014 Health Assets and Needs Assessment (HANA) Report which identified a rapidly aging population in the Tallaght area. An aging population will increase the incidences of chronic disease such as dementia. The Hospital has seen a 22% increase in older persons attending at the Emergency Department in the last five years, a pattern that is set to continue over the next 15 years as the local population aged over 75 increases by 123%, or 11,500 people.

The weekly Clinic provides a multidisciplinary service that brings together experts in geriatric medicine physicians, clinical nurse specialists, clinical neuropsychologists, speech & language therapists, nutritionists, and occupational therapists. Patients, accompanied by a friend or relative, meet with the clinical nurse specialist who documents the nature and progression of symptoms, and completes a detailed standard neuropsychological battery of tests to identify issues of mood, behaviour, and different aspects of memory. Following a CT or MRI brain scan, the assessments are then discussed by the multi-disciplinary team before a diagnosis is given. An important strength is that the clinics provides ample opportunity for discussion of the diagnosis and the next steps.  

Dr. SeaDr Sean Kennelly Memory Clinicn Kennelly, Consultant Physician in Geriatric Medicine, Tallaght Hospital, said, “Tallaght Hospital is an important centre of excellence for dementia care and research, and the new weekly Memory Clinics demonstrate our continued commitment to providing valuable care and service to the local population. The HANA Reports in 2001 and 2014 both identified increased health challenges that would accompany the rapidly growing local elderly population in the Tallaght area and we are constantly working to successfully meet these challenges. Our clinics offer a multidisciplinary patient centred approach and aim to identify people with dementia before significant symptoms are evident. With this clinic, we hope to enhance the service, care, and support we have been delivering to people living with dementia from the Tallaght region over the past two decades.”

David Slevin, CEO, Tallaght Hospital, said, “Tallaght Hospital is very proud of the work being undertaken by our excellent team in the Memory Clinic. Their collaboration across a number of different fields reinforces the important value of people caring for people, which we aim to put at the heart of everything that we do. With our aging population locally and nationally, this service will become more vital than ever as the particular challenges that come from this demographic change arise.”

As well as dementia, the HANA study confirms the increasing burden of chronic illness in general in the Tallaght Hospital catchment area with one in five people survey diagnosed with as having at least one chronic illness. This highlights the need for the hospital to continue its focus on the prevention and treatment in this area.

Referral to the Memory Clinic is to Dr. Sean Kennelly, Consultant Physician in Geriatric Medicine via your general practitioner. For further information on dementia: www.alzheimer.ie

About Tallaght Hospital
Tallaght Hospital is one of Ireland’s largest acute teaching hospitals, providing child-health, adult, psychiatric and age-related healthcare on one site. The hospital has 495 adult beds and 67 paediatric bed with 2,600 people on staff. The Hospital is a provider of local, regional and national specialities. It is also a national urology centre, the second largest provider of dialysis services in the country and a regional orthopaedic trauma centre.

Tallaght Hospital is one of two main teaching hospitals of Trinity College Dublin - specialising in the training and professional development of staff in areas such as nursing, health and social care professionals, emergency medicine and surgery, amongst many others. Tallaght Hospital is part of the Dublin Midlands Hospital Group which serves a population of over 1.2 million across seven counties.

A new satellite centre is to be built at Tallaght Hospital as part of the National Children’s Hospital project as a key element of an integrated clinical network for paediatric services nationally.

The hospital’s Emergency Departments catered for 44,640 Adult ED Attendances and 31,934 Paediatric Attendances in 2014. A further 263,929 patients were treated through the hospital’s outpatient clinics in 2014. The hospital’s operations are supported by a community of 200 general practitioners in surrounding communities.