Timely dementia diagnosis, post-diagnostic supports and care | New Zealand Timely dementia diagnosis, post-diagnostic supports and care | New Zealand

15 Sep 2022

NZ Dementia framework:

The second key element of the dementia framework centres around assessment, diagnosis, early intervention, and ongoing support. It addresses each of the aspects in turn.


The aim is to “empower anyone who recognises changes in their own or someone else’s memory or cognitive abilities to seek an assessment and have timely access to an assessment”. The framework outlines good practice points for health services to follow. These include specific recommendations for:

  • Assessment in primary care, when to refer to specialist services and what specialist services should have available (such as access to CT scans and formal neuropsychological testing),
  • Diagnosis.


The aim is to “provide earlier diagnosis for people with dementia. An earlier diagnosis will allow the person and provide them with information to promote self-management and rehabilitation, thus ensuring that they are able to live with a sense of wellbeing for as long as possible.”

Recommendations include considerations for when making the diagnosis of dementia as well as how to approach other underlying or co-morbid diagnoses (such as MCI, depression, and substance use).

Early intervention and ongoing support:

The aim is to “encourage people with a recent diagnosis of dementia to participate in ongoing, culturally appropriate support that is tailored to meet their needs and maximise their abilities and independence…[and] is also to help the person with dementia and their family and whānau navigate through the health and social support system”. 

Good practice points are provided for the management of the person with dementia, meeting the needs of family and whānau, and expectations of health navigators (a named first point of contact with a good knowledge of dementia as well as health and social services which can help the person and their whānau understand the diagnosis and assist with navigation through the system).

Dementia Action Plan:

The dementia plan outlines a priority action of supporting people living with dementia and their family/whānau care partners/supporters to live their best possible lives.

Action areas include recommendations to:

  • implement options to improve the provision of timely and accurate diagnosis and comprehensive management planning in primary care;
  • align core features of DHB Cognitive Impairment Pathways to reinforce a national approach, including investigating health technology options for cognitive testing to arrive at a recommendation for national adoption;
  • coordinate and support access to needed services including emergency support;
  • include information, education, support, and flexible, available and accessible respite services;
  • start working with specific populations (such as Pasifika/those living alone) to identify unique needs and develop solutions for each.