Should old age psychiatry develop memory clinics? A comparison with domiciliary work
Steve Simpson, Diane Beavis, John Dyer, Sue Ball



Memory clinics have become very popular in old age psychiatry and there is some pressure for them to be developed in old age services. However, there is little evidence to suggest that they are more advantageous over the traditional domiciliary visits or who should be seen in clinic. This was a naturalistic comparison of 76 consecutive new referrals to a memory clinic, with 74 consecutive new domiciliary requests within the same service over the same period of time. A retrospective case note review collected the clinical features and an 18-month prospective follow-up examined the subsequent clinical management.


The two groups were characterised more by their similarities than their differences. However, the domiciliary group had greater behavioural and psychological complications. The memory clinic patients were less likely to receive psychotropic medication and here more likely to be followed up.


We conclude that memory clinics might be less suitable for patients with prominent psychiatric complications. Memory clinics could complement the domiciliary model by providing early psychosocial/neuropsychiatric approaches, although this is likely to lead to an increased clinical case-load.

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