07.01.01. Where and how do people get a diagnostic assessment for dementia? | Jamaica

07.01.01. Where and how do people get a diagnostic assessment for dementia? | Jamaica

27 Sep 2022

A local psychiatrist and STRiDE Jamaica stakeholder provided a brief overview of the diagnostic and post-diagnostic process for patients living with Dementia in Jamaica:

In terms of diagnostic tools used, he explains that patients are diagnosed using a history often obtained from collateral informants such as family, friends, or peers, along with a physical examination and mental status examinations, including the use of the Mini Mental Status Examination, which is often supported by brain imaging.

In terms of which mental health professional usually makes a diagnosis, he says that usually psychiatrists make the diagnosis of dementia, however he acknowledges that competent General Practitioners have also made the diagnosis and that in some cases, Mental health Nurse Practitioners have also assisted in diagnosing cases. He also notes that a dementia clinic exists at the University Hospital of the West Indies and is run by an assigned Consultant Psychiatrist and operated by a Psychiatry Resident.

[It was later learned that the services for the dementia clinic at University Hospital of the West Indies are available once a week, on Tuesdays between 12.30 p.m. to 4.00 p.m. An initial appointment with the General Psychiatry Clinic at the hospital is required, then followed up by regular visits at the Dementia Clinic. There is a cost attached of $2,500.00 JMD for the initial appointment and $1,200.00 JMD per visit to the dementia clinic.]

After diagnosis, it is explained that many patients are followed up by mental health nurses (in the Community mental health service ) and are followed up annually by the psychiatrist. Sometimes referrals are made by the psychiatrist for additional nursing assistance/housing. However, no psychological or social workers are available to the Kingston St Andrew or St Thomas Health Departments, which serve the most populous areas in Jamaica. Other Health Departments, on the other hand, may provide some psychological and/or social support (such as nursing assistance/housing). Our source notes that family support groups for persons with dementia exist in Jamaica, but these are poorly attended and ad-hoc referrals consequently diminish their momentum and critical mass.