Ambulance bosses say the introduction of specific dementia training has had a hugely positive impact on the care that 999 staff are able to give patients.
The comments come off the back of a Government announcement that all NHS staff are to receive such training within four years.
Head of Education at West Midlands Ambulance Service, Julian Rhodes, said: “We noticed some years ago that the number of patients who were calling 999 with dementia was rising rapidly.
“Two years ago, as part of our regular review of education, we started developing a course that over 2,000 of our frontline staff have now undertaken.
“Given the vast majority of the patients we come into contact with are elderly, our staff have told us that the additional knowledge has proved invaluable for ensuring we are able to provide each individual with the right sort of care.
“One of the key areas for our staff was the assessment and treatment of dementia patients who were in pain. Many simply didn’t tell our staff that they were in pain and due to their condition it was often difficult for the staff to diagnose the situation.
“By delivering specific teaching around the clinical assessment of dementia patients, we are confident that our staff are picking up on these issues to a far higher level than before.
“The feedback we have had from staff has also been very positive as they are now actively looking for the condition and are much more confident in identifying dementia and therefore giving the patient better treatment and care.
“Our training programme includes looking at the different types of dementia, be it Alzheimers, Parkinsons, Vascular Dementia or a range of other conditions but also how it presents and signs to look out for.
“Another key area is that we are able to ensure that the condition is noted, even if it is only a suspicion, and then further action can be taken when we hand the patient over to other sectors of the NHS or the family.
“There has been a lot of interest from other ambulance services in what we have been doing so we are confident that all services are taking action on this hugely important area of patient care.
“We feel this has been an important step forward and I am certain other NHS staff will welcome the opportunity to learn more about this important condition.”