A while back a patient, her husband and son invited me for tea. It was a privilege to converse with this charming and hospitable family, and it was very insightful to receive first hand feedback on Red & Yellow Care’s service provision.
The husband thanked us for the bespoke and responsive nature of our service. His wife had needed a range of assessments and tests, and each appointment had been organised within a matter of days and with a high degree of flexibility. The initial referral was on a Monday, a home visit by one of our consultant psychiatrists on Tuesday evening, a blood test on Thursday, a follow-up consultation with a consultant geriatrician on Saturday, an MRI scan the following Thursday morning, the outcome of the scan communicated by phone that same day and the full diagnostic report sent by the following Monday. The entire diagnostic process had been finalised within 2 weeks from referral.
The patient herself told me that she had constantly felt in the best possible hands. Our specialists had proved highly competent, approachable, caring and empathetic. Even though she had seen different Red & Yellow specialists, everyone had been well informed about her case and she had never needed to repeat herself.
The son wanted us to know that his mother’s mood and behaviour had changed dramatically from the moment our consultant and the rest of the specialist team took her under their wing. Before, she had been anxious, fearful and tearful about her symptoms, but even more so, about not receiving straight answers from the clinicians she had seen. In contrast, the speed of action and the thoroughness of Red & Yellow’s investigations felt comforting and reassuring from the first appointment.
You can imagine the pride I felt, as managing director of Red & Yellow Care, at receiving such positive feedback. From a business point of view however, the patient’s diagnosis posed a dilemma. A year earlier, we had opened our doors as the dementia specialists, dedicated to the treatment of people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. But the patient in question was not diagnosed with dementia, but instead with a different long-term condition prevalent in later life. Despite this, her family insisted that they knew of no other team that would have teased out this particular diagnosis from the lady’s odd mix of symptoms, and that can provide responsive multi-professional treatment and care for the diagnosed condition. They wanted to remain under our care.
A closer look at our client base shows that from the patients we have assessed, one third were diagnosed with another condition than dementia, and from those diagnosed with some form of dementia, almost 90% have also other health conditions with a negative impact on function, independence and quality of life. This picture makes perfect sense if you look at some macro figures on long-term conditions1 from the Department of Health. The number of people in England with 3 or more long-term conditions (both physical and psychological) is predicted to rise to 2.9 million in 2018, with more than 30% of people above 80 having to deal with at least two2.
As with dementia, most long-term health conditions – such as depression, anxiety disorder, hypertension and Parkinson’s disease – cause a plethora of health issues across physical, psychological and social health, changing all the time, for a long time. Red & Yellow’s multi-professional team, comprising psychiatrists, neurologists, geriatricians, occupational therapists, speech & language therapists, specialist nurses, clinical psychologists, dieticians and physiotherapists, is uniquely qualified to provide assessment, treatment, therapy and care for a whole host of conditions prevalent in old age.
Which is why starting this week we will broaden our focus and offer specialist services to any older person who lives with one or more long-term health conditions (click here for the list of conditions we treat), or who has particular symptoms that warrant a diagnostic assessment by one of our senior consultants (click here for a list of symptoms and consultants). We will retain our unique expertise in dementia whilst also providing bespoke and responsive specialist care for other major conditions that get in the way of older people living their lives in an independent, enjoyable and fulfilling way.
The patient I visited for tea is still under our care today. I would like to thank her and her family for inspiring us to open our doors to many more people in dire need of effective assessment, treatment and care.
1. A long-term condition is a condition that cannot, at present, be cured but is controlled by medication and/or other treatment and therapies.
2. Source: Department of Health (2012) Report: Long-term conditions compendium of Information: 3rd edition
Rogier van den Brink
Red & Yellow Care