THE SERVICES AVAILABLE FOR PERSONS WITH DEMENTIA AND HOW TO USE THEM: CHANGING YOUR GENERAL PRACTITIONER

It can be very difficult to choose a new general practitioner, either because you have moved into a new area or decided to part company with the practice with which you are currently registered. Ask friends and neighbours who their doctor is and where the surgery is located. Ask them how they get on with their doctor and what they see as the strengths and weaknesses of the doctors they know. If possible, try to make contact with other people caring for a person with dementia and see whether their doctor has the qualities that you think are important.

Make a shortlist of practices — there will probably only be three or four at most within easy reach of your home, fewer in rural areas — and visit them. You can tell a lot from the atmosphere that you pick up as you enter the surgery and from the attitude of the reception staff. Make a list of questions to ask such as are the doctors taking on new patients, are you in their area, how do you register with them, do they have any particular interests, and do they visit the elderly house-bound. Ask if you can make an appointment to talk to one of the doctors before registering with them. The way in which your questions are treated, and more importantly whether they make you feel welcome, should help you to decide if this is the practice with which you wish to register.

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