Our dementia assessment services are based across the county and provide assessment, diagnosis, initial treatment, information and support to you and your family if you are developing a form of dementia or other memory problems.

Our teams are made up of a consultant psychiatrist, doctors, psychiatric nurses, a psychologist and other mental health staff.

Dementia Assessment and Support Service (DASS)

Every function, movement, thought, emotion, and perception, whether consciously or subconsciously, originate in our brain.

Different parts of our brains are responsible for different functions such as movement, emotions, senses, social skills, words and language, problem solving and planning complex activities.

As part of your DASS assessment the team will assess these different brain areas.

Before your DASS assessment

Your GP will carry out a physical examination, take blood tests and may organize other investigations. The impact of a dementia diagnosis on such things as driving may be discussed.

Your GP will ask for your consent to make a referral to the Older Persons Mental Health team for further assessment.

It is important that you do not have any mental tests prior to your assessment with us, other than a test specifically for GPs.

Once the referral has been received by the Older Persons Mental Health team, it will be checked for relevant information, such as the history of your problem, your medical conditions, medications, and the results of any investigations.

This is usually followed by a phone call to you, and with your permission, your relative or your carer to get more information about your symptoms and to make sure that you are happy to go ahead with an assessment.

Once all the relevant information has been gathered a discussion will take place in the Dementia Assessment and Support Service (DASS), to make sure we are the most suitable service to meet your needs.

The assessment and feedback process


  • The DASS team will take a detailed history of your symptoms and any relevant family history and ask about your likes, dislikes, and personality, so that your care can be ‘centered specifically around you’.
  • Review your personal life history, medical problems, medications and conduct some mental testing.
  • It will then be decided whether you will need any further investigations, such as a
    more detailed neuropsychological assessment, a brain scan, or an Occupational Therapy assessment to look at your ability to manage everyday tasks (such as cooking, laundry etc.)


  • The DASS team will discuss the outcome of your assessment and investigations and will normally reach a diagnosis of your problem and draw up a personal management plan.
  • This will be fed back to you and your family or carer by a specialist dementia nurse, the DASS team doctor, a neuropsychologist or clinical psychologist.
  • If it has been decided that medication will help with your type of dementia this will be prescribed and given to you by a member of the DASS team.

Post diagnostic support

  • When a diagnosis has been made a member of the team will contact you to provide
    further support and advice about local services, research, and relevant support groups you could attend.
  • Once an agreed care plan that meets that your needs is completed, the DASS team
    will write to your GP, and send you a copy, giving the details of the assessment and its outcome, the ongoing management required from both primary care (your doctor’s surgery and community services) and if relevant secondary care (the hospital or any specialists), including any follow up arrangements.

What is dementia? 

Dementia is a loss of cognitive (mental) ability over and above that to be expected due to becoming older, representing a marked change from an individual’s previous level of functioning.

Dementia is not a single disease, but a variety of signs and symptoms which have been present for a period of at least six months. Brain changes can result in changes to our memory, attention, language, personality, visuospatial skills, planning, and problem solving.

Dementia is caused by changes in the structure and function of the brain due to disease, degeneration, or injury.

Not all cognitive impairment is caused by dementia, for instance a degree of poor memory or word finding difficulty can be a normal part of aging.

There are many different types of dementia, and an accurate diagnosis is required.

Preventing dementia

Leading an active lifestyle has a significant impact on both physical and mental wellbeing and can improve the quality of life for people with all stages of dementia.

Doing the things you like to do and enjoying life, are very important along with taking medication as prescribed.

It is vitally important to eat a healthy and varied diet to ensure all necessary proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals are available for the body to use to maintain health.

It is also important to drink sufficient fluids to make sure that your body functions well.

If we stop practising something for long enough our ability to perform that skill reduces.  ‘Use it or lose it’ applies to how well the brain works. It is important to exercise your brain by practising tasks and keeping your brain active. The more challenging the task, within reason, the better the exercise your brain will receive.

Keeping socially active is vitally important for brain health, continue to maintain links and contact with friends, family, and social groups, as much as possible.

Contact details

Your local DASS teams:

0300 124 5601 (select option 1)

Open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, except Bank Holidays.

0300 124 5602 (select option 3)

Open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, except Bank Holidays.

Taunton and West Somerset
0300 124 5606

Open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, except Bank Holidays.

South Somerset
01935 443600

Open Monday to Friday 8.30am to 4.30pm, except Bank Holidays.