Dementia Awareness

| May 2, 2017

Dementia Friends


Work in a veterinary practice is very much based around life and death. One minute you can be trying to console a heart broken client while you aid their lifelong family member out of their pain then the next minute be discussing the care required by an eight week old squirming bundle of furry joy, so full of life and energy that it is hardly containable in its owner’s arms! It is a part of our job that we accept and hope that we do well as both events are really important in the memories of our clients and our patients.

Recently, we had a case that hit the staff harder than usual. Mrs Jones contacted the practice in a distressed state to say that her relatively young dog had got very poorly very suddenly. We immediately collected the patient but there was nothing we could do to save this pet. With Mrs Jones’ consent, the pet was euthanised and, sadly, Mrs Jones left the surgery on her own.

What we had realised during our short interactions with Mrs Jones was that she wasn’t able to fully comprehend what had happened. There were many phone calls and members of staff went to check up on her at home, going through the same conversation about the events of that day with patience and care. Mrs Jones required repeated confirmation that her best friend and sole companion wasn’t coming home again and we felt helpless to know what more we could do to help.

It wasn’t until a couple of days later that we had a telephone call from Mrs Jones’s friend who confirmed that this lady suffered from dementia, followed by a call from a doctor’s surgery to clarify details so they could also help. We had no notes on the client’s records to show that there was anyone else we could contact and we risked a breach of confidentiality by approaching her neighbours. So it was a relief to know Mrs Jones was being cared for and someone with the appropriate experience and knowledge was able to support our client through this shock.

So please, if you are a carer or family member for someone you know suffers dementia or memory loss problems, and you know they have a pet registered with us, would you make the time to drop by the surgery with them and give us your details to add to their records as someone we could contact in the event of an emergency? With client confidentiality, it is really hard for us to reach out without their permission and, as this event has shown, in the case of a sudden tragedy, the client isn’t always able to give us information of someone we can call. We wouldn’t use your information unless it was necessary but, should another situation like this one arise again, it would put us in a much better position to support our clients for whom the battle of dementia and memory loss is a daily one.

Thank you.


We are working towards becoming a recognised dementia friendly practice. All names above have been changed to protect identities.


Category: Featured

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