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Screening and Assessment for Cognitive Impairment

This section provides information on screening and assessment tools for cognitive impairment that your service can use and considers a range of issues that may affect the screening and assessment of complex needs. The main points are that:

  • You need to consider what benefit screening and assessment will have for your client.
  • Cognitive screening questionnaires and tests can help identify signs of cognitive impairment.
  • Identifying indicators of cognitive impairment can help you plan and adapt care and support services, and may indicate if further assessment would be beneficial.
  • Functional assessments help identify the level of support, supervision and resources a person needs.
  • It's not always practical or necessary to have a person who you think may have cognitive impairment referred to a neuropsychologist for a full neuropsychological evaluation.
Screening and Assessment

Conducting screening and assessment

Many people in drug and alcohol services have some kind of cognitive impairment and spend their whole lives without a diagnosis. A diagnosis can be valuable, though for some people with complex needs a diagnosis can increase the barriers to the treatment and support they need.

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Assessing levels of functioning

Functional assessments help identify the level of support, supervision and resources a person needs. They can be used to determine eligibility, care planning and assessing outcomes.

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Screening questionnaires

Questionnaires may be used to screen for cognitive impairment. There are benefits to this approach in that questionnaires can often be quicker to administer and more acceptable to clients than cognitive screening tests.

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Cognitive screening tests

A full neuropsychological evaluation of a client is not always possible. Cognitive screening tests can be a useful alternative option.

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Formal assessment of cognition

Clinical neuropsychological assessment is the gold standard with respect to formally evaluating and documenting the nature and severity of cognitive impairment.

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Diagnosing fetal alcohol spectrum disorder

Diagnosing fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD) requires a specialist team and a specific diagnostic tool.

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