GP's power and their lack of Mental Health awareness


Registered User
Mar 16, 2005
We went to a meeting at my Dad's Home last night. Someone was there who is going to liaise between Care Homes and Hospitals because people in Homes are not getting access to services that they would when living in their own home. We were asked what services we might need, but until a situation arises, isn't that a bit of a hypothetical question?

She also mentioned the fact that GP's are more reluctant (my word, not hers) to visit Homes and that it might work better if there was one doctor who visited every patient in the Home all at once, instead of individuals having different doctors visiting different days/times. This sounds reasonable and I can't see why this isn't done already, unless someone can see a downside?

There was a discussion of bad experiences of hospitals, and how they are not at all geared up for people with mental illness etc. (How long do we have to keep just talking about it?) There was also talk about GP's and how sometimes their level of awareness is also sadly lacking.

Coincidentally, my Dad's GP had been to see Dad the day before, and, also coincidentally, Mum happened to arrive at the Home at the same time as the GP. Someone suggested that Mum went over to sit with Dad and the GP (Mum wouldn't have thought of it herself, and wasn't invited to by the doctor - even though she'd made clear to him who she was).

The doctor did ask Mum how she found Dad, and when she mentioned that he sometimes spits out his medication, the doctor turned to Dad and said to him, "You must take your medication" - how farcial - as if Dad would understand what 'medication' meant, or that he would miraculously remember this conversation at pill-taking time and obey his command! Am I being super-sensitive here? Is my Dad the only one with dementia who wouldn't understand/remember what the doctor said? Was the doctor only saying what he thought he should say because he didn't know what else to say? (Trying to be fair to the doctor here!)

Surely it does not take a genius to see that even some rudimental training in mental illness/dementia should be given to GP's and indeed, all health professionals. If it is already given, then it does not appear to be working in lots of cases! The woman who attended the meeting did mention that doctors do have some kind of ongoing training sessions that they attend, so couldn't dementia, its possible effects and 'things-not-to-say' be one of those sessions? Couldn't they invite carers (professional or otherwise) to speak at these sessions to give them a better idea of how not to talk to someone with dementia - and to their carers?!

There was also a worrying situation was put forward by the staff, where a Mental Health doctor had prescribed medication for one resident, then their GP had visited and wanted to change this (to a cheaper one). The staff had to fight against this. I can understand if it was sleeping tablets etc. but can this be right - that GP's have the authority to change medication prescribed by a consultant in the Mental Health field?

Too many questions I know, and perhaps I'm just too impatient for change, but when will some common sense prevail and some real action to address these issues take place? Is it just training needed or do we need some kind of social shift of understanding before anything can truly change?

I've put this in the research, students and professionals section, hoping that it may reach the people who might be able to do something about it because us carers just seem to be ignored and shoo-ed away over and over again.


Registered User
Sep 16, 2005

My favourite quotes from GPs when in conversation with them they would find out about Dad's condition (whether I was seeing them, Dad had an accident and so on)

Number One favourite quote: [Drum roll please]
"You know you don't have to worry its not hereditary." [cymbals]

Number Two favourite quote: [Drum roll please]
"Oh did you know that there was this really interesting research done with some nuns in it...." (and yes he was referring to the one many years ago now)

The there was the time that I went to the doctor with my print outs from the Internet and posed the theory that Dad had fronto-temporal dementia not Alzheimer's. The doctor takes the print outs from me and starts reading me everything that is on, I actually read it before I took it to him??? Turns out he changes Dad's diagnosis based on these pieces of article had a bit about Llewy Bodies, which he explained to me, Dad had no symptoms of...which I already knew...but he appeared to get really interested in what was in the article so I left it with him. Two weeks later a woman I work with tells me her Dad's doctor (same as my Dad's) had just amazingly determined that her Dad didn't have Alzheimers after all but Llewy Bodies.......I wonder....bit of a coincidence eh? And it was just articles straight out of a Google Search!


Registered User
Jan 31, 2004
near London
daughter said:
that it might work better if there was one doctor who visited every patient in the Home all at once

at Jan's home, because everyone lives there, they are all assigned the same GP.

This may also be because the home is pretty much totally funded by the PCT, although it is a private home.

daughter said:
when will some common sense prevail and some real action to address these issues take place

when society at large appreciates that this can happen to any family.

Given the changing demographics of society, there is going to be a heck of a lot more of it coming to the surface as well.

These days it would probably take some young and beautiful 'celebrity' being diagnosed with Early Onset dementia for anyone to take notice.


Registered User
Oct 27, 2005
north-east england
Mental Health

Hi im a professional social worker and i have a interest in elderly care.I have to say that a lot of people not just us don't stop to think about dementia and other mental health related issues.Im afraid it is a societal problem and it will require a major change in attitudes to combat.So we are all in this together to try and educate others about what i see in my work with families and your own experiences.Shaun


Registered User
Oct 9, 2003
Birmingham Hades
I think there is a small move to greater recognition of Dementia with the general public.
Talking to people I find that more of them these days do have some knowledge of dementia and particlarly Alzheimer's Disease.
The big problem lies with the professionals.
I have been pleased to have the opportunity to speak to some health service groups.they generally were anxious to know more about dementia and what it is like living with it, small acorns!!
There needs to be a module in every profession's training, bringing dementia to their notice, acquainting them with facts and dispelling myths ,this applies to the medical profession and to the social and health services.
We can only lay the foundations for recognition of these awful diseases and hope that those that come after will carry on the fight,I am sure that they will

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