3 November 2022
By Tom Collins
A new Regional Specialist Memory Clinic and specialist outpatient clinics for older persons will be fully operational at Mercy University Hospital (MUH) by the end of the year.
The schedule of accommodation at the new single storey purpose-built 3,000 sq ft. clinic at Lancaster Gate provides nine consulting rooms and clinical space and has ancillary car parking.
The MUH CEO, Ms Sandra Daly said: “MUH is delighted to have been identified by the HSE as the Regional Specialist Memory Service for the southwest region. The service at Lancaster Gate will facilitate the management of the complex healthcare needs associated with an ageing population enabling the maintenance of physical function, improved management of chronic syndromes and most importantly empowering such patients to reside safely in their community for longer.”
To meet the growing needs of those with dementia and aligning with the recommendations of the National Dementia strategy, the HSE National Service Plan 2021 and 2022 is enabling the development of Regional Specialist Memory Clinics.
This new Regional Specialist Memory clinic at the Mercy University Hospital, one of two being developed outside of Dublin, will bring to four the total of such services nationally.
The main aim of the Regional Specialist Memory clinic is to address the significant shortfall in diagnostic services for memory deficits and in particular dementia that currently exists.
The Regional Specialist Memory service is an all-age service aimed at the earlier and more accurate diagnosis of dementia.
Dementia is characterised by a decline in one or more cognitive domains interfering with daily function and independence. Current estimates on the population in Ireland suggest that there are over 55,000 people living with dementia which is expected to rise to 94,000 by 2031. Dementia is not just a disease of old age. There are significant numbers within the overall dementia population with early onset dementia. Currently, it is estimated that there are approximately 4,000 people under the age of 65 years with dementia in Ireland. Within the Cork & Kerry region there are approximately 8,500 people with dementia with 5,500 of those living in the community.
Ireland’s first National Dementia Strategy was published in 2014. Within this several key priorities were identified including the need for timely access to diagnosis and intervention, integration of care for those with dementia and the availability of appropriately trained specialist staff.
Early diagnosis of cognitive impairment including dementia allows a person to plan for a meaningful future and supports carers by facilitating access to the necessary treatment interventions and supports.
The new multidisciplinary team at the Mercy University Hospital within the Regional Specialist Memory service led by a consultant geriatrician will provide a new innovative diagnostic service for the southwest region of the country, based out of a newly constructed, dementia friendly designed clinics at Lancaster Gate.
The service will offer people:
Access for specialist multi-disciplinary assessment for those with complex presentations and suspected Young Onset Dementia.
Sensitive disclosure of diagnosis
Access to specialist diagnostics
A referral pathway for post diagnostic supports
Co-ordination of care between all levels of service delivery within primary and community care
Promotion and support of population health and wellbeing initiatives with primary care (e.g. exercise, nutrition, social connectedness)
Signposting to supports via access to Dementia Advisors
Access to future clinical trials including studies of new, potentially disease modifying medicines
The Lancaster Gate development will also allow further enhancement of the broader specialist services for older people within the department of geriatric medicine at MUH and will allow more rapid access for older people in Cork to specialist diagnostic and management for the complex health problems associated with later life.