Information on our assessment process
What follows is an overview of the usual assessment process when you come to Dundee. The following is just a guide but we will explain any changes to you on the day. We would usually hope that patients are accompanied by friends/ relatives/ partners/ etc. and we will seek your consent to get additional information from them.
Before you are assessed we will have reviewed all available case notes so that we have as much information as possible on previous treatments. It also helps us to identify areas where there is uncertainty (e.g. diagnosis), and also issues that we should focus on (such as previous experience of treatment).
In the morning, you will meet with one of the psychiatrists (Dr David Christmas or Dr Lori-An Etherington) who will conduct a detailed psychiatric interview, focusing on your current symptoms and the impact of the illness upon your life. We will also spend time understanding more about you, your family, and your work. We routinely use rating scales in order to rate the severity of your illness.
In the afternoon, you will meet one of our experienced psychological therapists (all nurses) who will take a slightly different approach to understanding your difficulties. This session will include a review of the previous psychological therapies that you have received and looks at your experiences of these, so that we can offer advice on the likelihood that further psychological therapies (e.g. CBT) will be of benefit.
If you have OCD, we will also use this time to get more information about how your OCD works and get some additional info on how it has affected your family life.
Discussion with family members
It is helpful to be able to speak to people that know you well and who can describe not only how your symptoms affect you currently, but also what you were like before you were more unwell. Either the psychiatrist or the nurse (sometimes both) will speak to your family (with your permission) to get additional information about how your illness affects you and other aspects of your life. We will sometimes complete some additional assessments if this will help us get the best understanding of your difficulties.
In the afternoon, you will meet with members of the team that you have previously met over the course of the assessment. During this session we would usually offer feedback on what our views are and what treatment recommendations we are likely to make. This is an opportunity to ask questions and to clarify anything that hasn't been fully clear.
The purpose of this session is to come to a common understanding of your difficulties and to ensure that you go away with a sense of what might happen next in terms of treatment options.
Please note: There may be reasons why a feedback session is not possible. Sometimes we may suggest further discussions with the referring psychiatrist/ team and it may not be possible to provide clear recommendations on the day. Or, the main reason for assessment is to resolve issues about diagnosis rather than plan for treatment. We also might arrange to provide the feedback session remotely if we need other information before we can make clear recommendations.
In the last few years, we have changed our practice so that in most cases the assessment report goes directly to the you, the patient. Copies will go to your local psychiatrist and your GP. Most people find it helpful to have the information when they next meet up with their psychiatrist. We will normally aim to send the report within 2-3 weeks of assessment (unless other information is needed before we can complete our assessment).
In some cases, we will write the report to your usual psychiatrist and send a shorter summary of the key information to you.
We believe that the best assessment is done face-to-face, so we will usually aim for this. But in some situations (such as someone being too unwell to travel) we might suggest conducting the assessment online. The process is similar to that described above, except that we might spread the different parts of the assessment over different days.
As stated above, sometimes we will arrange to do the feedback session online, even if the assessment has been face-to-face. This might happen if we still need other information on previous treatments and we need this before we can offer sensible treatment recommendations.