Looking after someone with dementia can be difficult. At Dementia UK, we understand this, which is why we provide dementia specialist Admiral Nurses to help families during the toughest of times.
One of the challenging aspects of looking after someone with dementia can be trying to keep them otherwise healthy, alongside their dementia. This might involve managing GP and other health professional appointments, as well as managing other serious health conditions and any medication they are taking.
GP online services
GPs offer online services where you can use your computer, tablet or mobile, to manage your own healthcare – and that of the person you care for.
We have produced this leaflet in association with the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), to explain what these online services consist of, what benefits they might have for you, and how to go getting access to them. For more information on how GP online services can be used by people to manage their long-term conditions, visit the RCGP Patient Online toolkit: www.rcgp.org.uk/patientonline
Using GP online services
Online GP services are designed so you can:
make, change or cancel GP appointments, without having to telephone the practice. You can access the online services 24 hours a day, see what appointments are free in the coming days, and choose to see a particular doctor or nurse
request repeat prescriptions. You can also see a list of regularly prescribed medication, the prescribed dose, and when your next prescription is due
look up test results, as well as monitor your health by comparing with historic test results
see the medical notes on file about you, including your diagnoses, any allergies, immunisations, and past surgery etc.
see your medical notes wherever you are. This can be useful if you require medical attention when you are on holiday or traveling
Using GP online services on behalf of a person with dementia
If you care for someone with dementia, using their GP online services could help you manage their GP appointments and repeat prescriptions. It can also help you by acting as a record of the appointments, prescriptions and test results that they have had previously.
However, in order to set up an account with your GP’s online services, you must be named a ‘trusted person’ by the person and their GP. Your GP might refer to this as ‘proxy access’. To set up ‘proxy access’ / be named as a ‘trusted person’, you will need the person’s consent.
A person with dementia can give you their consent, while they are considered to have capacity to do so, under the Mental Capacity Act. A person is considered to have capacity if they can understand the information relevant to the decision; retain that information; and then use or weigh up that information as part of the process of making the decision. Your GP can advise you about the person you care for and their capacity.
Dementia is a progressive condition, meaning that it usually gets worse over time. As a person’s dementia progresses, they may get to a stage where they no longer have capacity to make some decisions.
It might be possible for you to be named a ‘trusted person’ by the GP, without the person with dementia’s consent. It helps if you have already been granted a Lasting Power of Attorney for health and welfare but this is not a guarantee. It is a good idea to talk to the GP about being named a ‘trusted person’ as early as possible, preferably while the person with dementia has capacity to consent.
How to apply to become a ‘trusted person’
The person with dementia will be asked to fill in a form that you get from your GP surgery. You can help them to fill this in, but it is very important that they sign it themselves and are considered to have capacity to make the decision to appoint you their trusted person. Your GP can advise on this.
The form has three important parts:
The first names the trusted person
The second states which online services the trusted person will have access to: appointments, prescriptions or the GP record. You can have access to one, two or all three of these. The person with dementia’s GP can advise you on which will be most useful for your situation
The third section of the form is for the person with dementia to sign, to confirm that they want you to have access to their GP online services, either now, or in the future
You will then need to visit your GP alongside the person with dementia. You will both need photographic ID such as a passport or driving licence. If you or the person with dementia do not have either of these, there are other ways to prove your identity. The GP practice will advise you about this. The GP may ask to see the person with dementia alone. They may wish to ask whether there is any information in their medical file that they would like to be kept private.
The GP can decide not to give you access to the person’s online services, if they feel it is not in the person’s interests to do so. This decision can take up to a month, depending on the waiting list. The GP will advise you of this. It may be possible to make the decision more quickly, if the need is urgent. Speak to the GP about this, if this is the case.
Sources of Support
If you have any questions or concerns about dementia, including managing different health conditions, medications, or advice about speaking with your GP, you can call Dementia UK’s specialist dementia nurses, on our Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline, on 0800 888 6678, or firstname.lastname@example.org. The Helpline is staffed entirely by nurses, and open seven days a week, Monday-Friday 9am-9pm and weekends 9am-5pm.