Case study

Increasing awareness of dementia risk factors

How Public Health Dorset is encouraging discussions around dementia risk and promoting the uptake of NHS Health Checks.

A healthy woman holding a cup in a kitchen.
Marketing image for the NHS Health Check programme.

Summary

Public Health Dorset was approached to work with local GPs to develop a communication tool to raise awareness of the lifestyle factors that can be modified to reduce dementia risk.

The aim was to encourage discussions around dementia risk between GPs and their patients. This can help to persuade more eligible patients to take up their offer of an NHS Health Check.

NHS Health Checks are for adults in England aged 40 to 74. More than 17,000 people in Dorset had a health check last year. The Checks include a dementia component which aims to increase awareness of dementia among people, aged 65 to 74.

Case study

Public Health Dorset developed a series of posters to raise awareness of the modifiable lifestyle factors that can increase the risk of dementia. The posters are aimed at healthcare professionals and the public and are designed to increase uptake of NHS Health Checks.

What was involved

Public Health Dorset created a local poster campaign based on the modifiable risk factors for dementia. What’s good for the heart is also good for the head was one of the key messages featured on the posters. Exercising and eating a balanced diet can reduce the risk of dementia as well as heart disease.

In addition to the posters, Public Health Dorset surveyed a number of local residents about their knowledge and perceptions of dementia risk. They also asked whether they had spoken to their GP about reducing their risk of dementia.

The majority of patients had not discussed dementia risk with their GP. This prompted the introduction of training for GPs focusing on:

  • ways to reduce dementia risk
  • incorporating dementia prevention into the NHS Health Checks
  • identifying services to help people modify their lifestyle and reduce their risk

What works well

GPs found the training useful and reported that it helped:

  • generate ideas for how to involve the wider family community in reducing risks
  • offer new insights into risk factors to incorporate into consultations
  • learn new things than can enhance their role with patients

What could be better

The poster designs were initially too scientific and not eye catching. Working with local design students, the design of the posters was improved to make them simpler and more striking.

Next steps

Public Health Dorset plans to distribute the posters further and roll out training to other GP localities, as well as the wider workforce such as community pharmacists.

They also plan to continue engaging with local dementia action groups to ensure prevention is on the agenda.

Further information

Contact Joanne Wilson, Head of Programmes at Public Health Dorset J.Wilson@dorsetcc.gov.uk.

www.publichealthdorset.org.uk

Published 22 March 2016