An app to detect the early signs of dementia is to be piloted in Walsall.

CantabMobile is a seven to ten minute assessment that gives health professionals a clear idea of whether a patient should be referred for dementia testing.

The touch-screen test uses symbols rather than words and has a voice over instructions in more than 15 languages.

Dementia care programme manager for NHS Walsall and Walsall Council, Michael Hurt, told eHealth Insider the app will be piloted with GPs, in an acute hospital, and with clinical nurse specialists working with patients with Parkinson’s Disease.

Seven GP practices are interested in trialling the app which is being provided free of charge for the trial period. Users are also being supplied with iPads for testing.

Hurt said just one third dementia in his area is diagnosed. The aim of the appproject is to identify people with dementia earlier, allowing the NHS and local authorities to put support mechanisms in place to keep them safe in their homes for longer.

“We want to pick people up as early as possible and we don’t do that with paper tests,” he said. “If it’s successful I would like to see a general roll out across the area.”

Hurt said paper based assessments are problematic and often miss people with dementia, while wrongly diagnosing others.

People with English as a second language or without good reading skills are disadvantaged and some people find the questions patronising.

“This way the software does the assessment,” Hurt explained. CANTABmobile compares a patient’s result instantly with a normative database of more than 5,000 healthy adults aged 50-90.

This shows how the patient’s memory compares to the level expected for someone of their age, gender and education.

If their score is lower than the norm, a simple depression questionnaire and Activities of Daily Living screener are used to complete the picture.

The result is then instantly presented to the HP using a simple traffic light system of Investigate, Monitor or Reassure.