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What next? Experiences of social support and signposting after a diagnosis of dementia

Hagan, Robert (2020) What next? Experiences of social support and signposting after a diagnosis of dementia. Health and Social Care in the Community. ISSN 0966-0410

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Abstract

The experience of being diagnosed with dementia can be shocking. This may be compounded if individuals feel that there is a lack of signposting onto further avenues of support following diagnosis. This study, then, examines how social support is promoted in the diagnostic process. Using purposive sampling and a grounded theory approach, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 13 members of a dementia empowerment group in Northern Ireland, discussing both their experience of diagnosis and also their subsequent group membership. Respondents reported both positive and negative experiences of diagnosis. Feelings of shock and bewilderment accompanied this process. Only one was able to identify a direct link between a medical professional and referral to the empowerment group, others being referred by other health professionals or dementia navigators. The study indicates that, due to disorienting feelings, one diagnostic consultation is insufficient to explain both the diagnosis and offer follow-up support. Therefore, more explicit links to navigators or other services need to be made at the point of diagnosis to prioritise information regarding opportunities for social engagement for those being diagnosed..

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