In Australia, parents are given a “blue book” that allows a child’s growth, development, and immunisation to be charted in one place. These details are recorded electronically also, but the blue book allows the parent to keep track of what assessments are due, and various health service providers can access the information provided by others when conducting assessments.
I am an audiologist who specialises in providing hearing and communication to people with dementia and their families. I know from experience that much of what is important and discussed in appointments is forgotten, and that having access to information from other health care professionals would improve my care planning, whilst aid my own communication with them. Family who care for people with dementia often don’t know the names of the people that are providing the care, let alone what is important to keep track of from provider to provider.
I propose a simple universal book that can be taken to all medical or allied health appointments (eg. Audiology, occupational therapy, speech therapy, optometrist, district nurse, general practitioner, gerontologist, memory specialist, clinical therapist, and so on). Entries can be colour coded, and updated with the most important or relevant information, and families don’t have to try and remember everything as it will all be there when needed. These need to be provided free to people with dementia, and to family carers that attend appointments.
Furthermore, important information critical to appropriate care on admission to hospital or respite can be entered in the front on an alert page. Obviously critical information about medicine or health conditions would be there, but I also suggest that basic things such as hearing or vision impairment will be just as essential to care. All of which have potential to cause behavioural “difficulties” and barriers to care, and significantly increase carer burden.
Separate hearing, vision, mobility, pain etc plans could then follow and be updated as necessary.
As an audiologist, I have very aware that families are overwhelmed by the communication impairments that accompany dementia. I also see many of the people and families I care for feeling like they are in a constant cycle between appointments and often left disempowered by their lack of knowledge, and unable to answer questions that the health providers ask. We can aid their communication, understanding, and improve the care provided simply by getting all the carers on the one page, or in the one book in this case.