Parkinson’s – Why ‘Signposting’ is so important
In recent posts I have discussed the importance of ‘Signposting’ and here I am bringing the subject up again.
I still don’t feel enough is being done to signpost patients to the services that are available for certain health conditions.
I have experienced the frustration of being passed from one service to another while trying to identify the correct care pathway for my dad. This has been the case after his recent diagnosis of ‘Parkinson’s’
WHAT IS PARKINSON’S?
Parkinson’s is a progressive neurological condition.
People with Parkinson’s don’t have enough of a chemical called dopamine because some nerve cells in their brain have died. Without dopamine people can find that their movements become slower so it takes longer to do things.
The main symptoms of Parkinson’s are tremor, rigidity and slowness of movement.
Similar symptoms can easily be associated with the onset of ‘old age’ and this may have been one of the reasons my dad had not known he had Parkinson’s, we certainly hadn’t considered this as an option. It could also be the reason his GP had not discussed this as a possible cause of dads symptoms, despite my dad having regular check-ups for other health issues.
Should more be done to test for this condition when there are a number of obvious symptoms?
The diagnosis of ‘Parkinson’s was unexpected and another stepping stone on the pathway of care. Initially after diagnosis we were directed back to the GP for medication, it was during this consultation an appointment with a ‘Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist’ was advised, but no other option was discussed at this point.
Working in the NHS I have been able to discuss my dad’s ongoing health issues with some of my colleagues, they have provided support and advice on the services that my dad should have been referred to, such as the Parkinson’s therapy group.
I was however, quite surprised to hear that the referral would have to come from the GP!
Why was this not mentioned by the GP?
Therefore armed with this information, I contacted the GP surgery and discussed this with the GP receptionist, who assured me they would pass on the information to the GP.
After a couple of weeks, no word had been received on this referral, so I called the surgery again, this time I was informed that my dad already had an appointment with the Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist and no other referral was required at this time.
I found this quite worrying as I had been informed of the importance of early referral for therapy, once a diagnosis of Parkinson’s had been made.
PATHWAY SO FAR:
Neurologist: Initial diagnosis
GP: Prescribed Medication – Referral to Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist.
Parkinson’s Nurse Specialist: Assessment
This assessment was not as informative as I expected, it was more of an update on my dad’s condition with an explanation of his previous medical history. The nurse specialist did not have my details on my dad or his recent medical history, no patient notes or information.
The meeting did however, give us reassurance of the support that was available from the nurse specialist, but when I asked about the therapy group and informed her of what I had been told, they didn’t seem to know anything about it. At this point I gave them the name and contact details of the practitioner who had provided me with this information, and after further discussion I was assured they would complete the report for the GP and send a copy to the practitioner to pursue this further.
I really do feel very frustrated by the lack of information shared throughout services within the NHS, especially when so much emphasis is put on identifying the correct care pathways. I really feel for the patients who don’t have someone to help and advise them of the support that is available for them. . .
My next post will report on the positive outcome from further discussions regarding the therapy services, and how things have moved on for my dad.