About Next Steps

The Covid-19 pandemic has created challenges in the delivery of memory service appointments. Many memory service staff were redeployed to other teams, most services had to operate at reduced capacity, and some services had to temporarily close.

Staff in memory services have worked extremely hard to adapt to provide a safe service during the pandemic and have done a magnificent job in embracing alternative approaches to assessing patients. This includes using telephone and video consultations and providing virtual occupational therapy, carer support sessions and neuropsychological testing.

Despite this, we know that the pandemic has impacted waiting times for memory assessments. Many people experiencing memory problems (and who may be worried they are developing dementia) are now waiting longer for their appointment, prolonging the period of anxiety and uncertainty of unexplained symptoms.

DCAN, in partnership with NHS England and NHS Improvement, has been gathering feedback from people with lived experience, carers and providers of support about their experiences of delays to memory assessment appointments during the pandemic and how this has impacted the need for and availability of support.

We have heard that the pandemic has left people feeling disconnected from formal and informal support networks, and that this has negatively impacted emotional, cognitive, social and physical well-being.

Together, we want to ensure people can proactively begin to prepare for the assessment and for the future in the period while they are waiting for their memory assessment. Furthermore, we want to help more people access support as soon as they need it, not only after diagnosis.

Next Steps aims to do this by making it easier for people to learn what to expect at a memory assessment, by providing tools and resources to begin thinking about how they can continue doing what matters to them, and by connecting people to available sources of support.

About DCAN

Next Steps has been created by the Dementia Change Action Network (DCAN), a collaboration between Alzheimer’s Society, NHS England & Improvement, and the Coalition for Personalised Care.

DCAN is an open, diverse, action-focussed network. We work in partnership people with dementia, their families and carers, and professionals, bringing together the worlds of dementia and personalisation.

We are focussed on what matters to people in their life, and on understanding how the NHS commitment to Universal Personalised Care can help them experience it.

Together we learn what is required to create change, and collectively work to help people embed that change.

We help NHS England and Improvement understand what is needed to make Universal Personalised Care a success for people with dementia.

Together we all see, hear, think, learn and achieve more.

Download our printable guide

This guide contains information and advice on staying well while waiting for a memory assessment, as well as a range of exercises you can complete to help you decide on what’s right for you.