Health care organisation and delivery for people with dementia and comorbidity: a qualitative study exploring the views of patients, carers and professionals
Objectives People living with dementia (PLWD) have a high prevalence of comorbidty. The aim of this study was to explore the impact of dementia on access to non-dementia services and identify ways of improving service delivery for this population. Design Qualitative study involving interviews and focus groups. Thematic content analysis was informed by theories of continuity of care and access to care. Setting Primary and secondary care in the South and North East of England. Participants PLWD who had 1 of the following comorbidities—diabetes, stroke, vision impairment, their family carers and healthcare professionals (HCPs) in the 3 conditions. Results We recruited 28 community-dwelling PLWD, 33 family carers and 56 HCPs. Analysis resulted in 3 overarching themes: (1) family carers facilitate access to care and continuity of care, (2) the impact of the severity and presentation of dementia on management of comorbid conditions, (3) communication and collaboration across specialities and services is not dementia aware. We found examples of good practice, but these tended to be about the behaviour of individual practitioners rather than system-based approaches; current systems may unintentionally block access to care for PLWD. Conclusions This study suggests that, in order to improve access and continuity for PLWD and comorbidity, a significant change in the organisation of care is required which involves: coproduction of care where professionals, PLWD and family carers work in partnership; recognition of the way a patient's diagnosis of dementia affects the management of other long-term conditions; flexibility in services to ensure they are sensitive to the changing needs of PLWD and their family carers over time; and improved collaboration across specialities and organisations. Research is needed to develop interventions that support partnership working and tailoring of care for PLWD and comorbidity.