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Health and social care professionals

There's a range of health and social care professionals that can help people affected by Parkinson's - offering essential services, practical help and general advice.

Specialist Parkinson's nurses also play a vital role in the delivery of care to people with Parkinson's.

Read on to find out which health and social care professionals can help you if you have Parkinson's.

If you're in the more advanced stages of Parkinson's - or you're caring for somebody who is - take a look at which health and social care professionals can help people with advanced Parkinson's.

If you're a carer of someone with Parkinson's it's important to look after your own health too. Your GP will be the first stop when accessing health and social services. Find out more about carers' health and wellbeing.

And if you're a health or social care professional yourself, take a look at our section for professionals.

Dietitians

If you don't understand something the doctor has said, ask them to repeat it and make sure you understand before you leave the surgery.

Dietitians can help if you have problems with your diet, for example if you are underweight or overweight, or have digestive problems such as constipation.

Your GP can refer you to a dietitian. And in some areas you can refer yourself.

Our Diet and Parkinson's booklet provides information on diet for people with Parkinson's, including tips on shopping, cooking and eating.

Consultants

Consultants are hospital doctors, usually neurologists or specialists in care of the elderly (geriatricians) with a particular interest in Parkinson's.

Referral to a consultant is essential.

This is because Parkinson's is a complex condition which is difficult to diagnose. And it can require complex drug treatment which may need to be adjusted as the condition progresses.

Not all neurologists specialise in Parkinson's, so try to ensure that you are referred to one who does.

General practitioners

General practitioners (GPs) are a gateway to many health services, from hospital consultants to therapists, and psychologists to home care.

Many of these services are only available with a GP referral.

To help you get the most out of your GP consultations, see our free publications:

Occupational therapists

Occupational therapists help people with disabilities to stay independent by advising on ways of making homes and workplaces safer or more user friendly.

They can be contacted directly in some areas or a referral can be made via your GP, consultant, community health service or Social Services/Social Work Department.

To find out more, take a look at our Occupational therapy and Parkinson's information sheet.

Pharmacists

Pharmacists' specialist understanding of the make-up and interactions of the chemicals in the drugs you are prescribed enables them to give very precise advice.

They will also advise on dispensing aids such as pill timers, or be able to offer advice if you find opening bottles difficult.

Find your nearest pharmacy services:

And if you're a pharmacist, the UK Parkinson's Excellence Network has resources to support hospital pharmacists and community pharmacists.

Psychologists and counsellors

Psychologists and counsellors give assistance and support to people with depression or other mental health issues.

People with Parkinson's may experience a degree of depression at some time.

Your GP can refer you to a psychologist or counsellor if this becomes serious.

More on depression and Parkinson's

Physiotherapists

Physiotherapists are trained health professionals who use physical treatments, including exercise, to help manage any stiffness in joints and to restore muscle strength and mobility.

They can also advise or train your carer (if you have one) in safe ways to help you with movement problems, and suggest ways to prevent falls.

Early referral is strongly recommended. This is usually via your GP, hospital consultant or Parkinson's nurse. Some also work privately.

You can find out more in our Physiotherapy and Parkinson's information sheet.

Social workers

Social workers provide a wide range of non-medical care that may include advice on home support, claiming benefits and respite care.

They are also responsible for your community care assessment and for carers' assessments.

Take a look at the Gov.uk for more information on social services and how to contact your local Social Services Department (or Social Work Department if you live in Scotland) for access to a social worker.

Speech and language therapists

Speech and language therapists specialise in all aspects of communication, from facial expression and body language to speech and communication aids. They are also experts in swallowing problems.

In most areas, self-referral to a speech and language therapist is possible through the speech and language therapy department at your local hospital.

Referrals can also be made through your GP or specialist.

You can read more in our Speech and language therapy and Parkinson's information sheet.

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