FAQ's (Frequently Asked Questions

I have been referred to Waltham Forest Memory Service. What happens now?

We aspire to contact you within three days and develop a joint plan which is shared with the GP. A face to face assessment is arranged within 10 days if you are ready and willing to engage. This appointment with you is to complete a full assessment of your memory. It usually lasts about one and a half hours and will be with a doctor, nurse or other healthcare professional. During this time, we will ask you some questions about your memory difficulties as well as some more general questions about you and your background. We will also arrange other test for you if you agree. This usually means that you will be offered a brain scan (please see below). You will also have the chance to have any questions that you have about your memory problems and your assessment.

After this, we will usually arrange a second appointment for you. At this second appointment, the doctor will be able to tell you about the results of the assessment and of any tests that you have had and you will be able to ask questions about this. At this point, we should also be able to discuss with you what we think is the cause of your memory difficulties and what can be done to help.

I was told that I may need to have some tests, what are they?

The most common test that we will ask for is a brain scan, usually either an MRI or a CT scan. Sometimes we will also ask for some blood tests. If you have already had these tests recently, there is no need to have them again.

People with certain types of memory difficulties may benefit from more in-depth testing of their memory and thinking to help us to understand more about their symptoms. If this is the case for you, our Neuro-psychologist and/OT will offer you some appointments to complete this testing.

If you are offered a test and do not wish to have it, that’s OK. You will have a chance to talk it over with a member of the team and to decide for yourself what you would like to do.

Can I bring someone with me to my appointments?

Yes! We encourage you bring a friend or a member of your family when we see you. This is because having someone familiar at the appointment can often help people to feel more confident about it, and also because friends and family often have helpful insights about their friend or relative’s memory difficulties. It can also be helpful for your family or friend to know what is happening in terms of your memory assessment.


I don’t have any problems with my memory, why have I been referred to a memory service?

Quite often people have mild memory problems that they do not notice them themselves. If your GP or your family think that you may have become a little more forgetful, it is worth coming to see us if you are willing to do so. We will then be able to tell you if we think there is a significant problem, or to reassure you and your family that there is no reason for concern at the moment. If you are not sure that you want to see us, you can call us on the number at the top of this information sheet to talk about it with a member of our team.

I have been referred to a memory service - do I have dementia?

We see people with many different types of memory problems. There are lots of possible causes of memory problems, and not everyone with memory problems has dementia. In fact, as people are becoming more aware of the importance of addressing memory problems early, we are seeing more and more people who don’t have dementia.

We will complete a thorough assessment to find out the most likely cause of your memory problems and will give you detailed feedback about this. It is possible that you will be told that you have dementia. Some people would rather not know their diagnosis and you will have a chance to discuss this at the start of your appointment.

Are there any treatments for memory problems?

Many people think that there aren’t any treatments available for people with memory problems. In fact, there are several medications that can slow down the changes in memory and which are suitable for many people. There are also many ways to help people with memory problems or dementia that don’t involve medication, including cognitive stimulation therapy

Cognitive stimulation therapy was designed after extensive research and can help people with mild-moderate dementia as much as medication. People taking part in CST attend a weekly group for 14/8 or more weeks which involve stimulating activities and exercises. We have had very positive feedback from the people attending our CST groups. More information about CST in Waltham Forest can be found here:

  • Medication (click here for information on medication)

Information about medications for dementia in general can be found on the Alzheimer’s Society website at https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=147

Information about specific medications for dementia can be found here: http://www.nelft.nhs.uk/memory-service-medication

How long will the Waltham Forest Memory Service continue to see me for?

In general, we see people several times over a period of about three-six months. During this time we will try to find out the cause of their memory problems and offer help and support, which may include medication. We will also refer you to any local organisation that may be able to offer additional advice, support and practical help in the long term. After this point, your GP will normally take over the care of your memory problems from us. Sometimes, we need to see people over a longer period of time and if this is the case we will make arrangements for this.

Can I be involved in research?

We are regularly involved in a range of different research studies. These may be, for example, of a medication, of a type of psychological therapy or of practical ways of helping people with memory problems and their families. We ask everyone in the clinic if they would like to be involved in research, but we understand that it is not everyone’s cup of tea so don’t be afraid to say if you’d rather not. All of our research studies have been approved by research and development and ethics committees.

People both with and without memory difficulties can also register their interest to take part in research at www.joindementiaresearch.nihr.ac.uk.Join Dementia Research is a national initiative that was developed to meet the Prime Minister’s Challenge to increase the number of people taking part in dementia research.  

Who should I contact if I have questions or if I want to tell someone that I am happy or unhappy with the service that I have received?

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us. We also welcome any type of feedback, because it helps us to improve the service that we provide for our patients. You can write to us or call us at the address or phone number at the top of this information sheet.

If you wish to discuss a matter with someone outside of our team, regarding an aspect of our service that has not met your satisfaction, please contact our Directorate Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) c/o Philippa Galligan, Assistant Director for MHS & Learning Disability, Telephone: 0300 555 1201 extension 68415

Email: shurland.wilson@nelft.nhs.uk

To submit a formal complaint please contact the Complaints Team, NELFT, 6th Floor, Wigham House, Wakering Road, Barking, Essex IG11 8PJ Telephone: 0300 555 1201 Ext: 6665/6666/4359 email: NELFTComplaints@nhs.net. There is also further information available online at www.nelft.nhs.uk/support.