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Introduction: Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is a state between normal cognition and dementia. It is common, with a prevalence of ∼3%. While there is a growing body of evidence regarding the healthcare experiences of people with dementia and their carers, little is known about this area in MCI. We set out to investigate the experiences of people with MCI (PWMCI) and their carers (‘advocates’) within healthcare services, including changes they would like to see made to these services.

Methods: Semi-structured interviews about experiences of healthcare services were carried out with 23 PWMCI and 20 advocates; the data were analysed qualitatively (using a grounded theory approach) and the results used to design a two surveys of healthcare experience (one for PWMCI and one for advocates). The surveys were administered by post to 280 PWMCI and their linked advocates.

Results: One hundred and forty-six completed questionnaires were received from PWMCI and 98 from advocates. A number of issues and suggested improvements were identified, the most important of which were: Both groups reported low rates of receiving ‘formal’ support from health or social care services (6%) despite the fact that ∼75% respondents in both groups felt they needed more help and support. Both groups requested provision of more information on a wide variety of topics. PWMCI wanted to be assessed with ‘more appropriate’ tests and advocates commonly requested that communication from the memory service be improved.

Conclusions: PWMCI and their advocates felt inadequately supported by healthcare services. Specific complaints related to being cared for within a service that appeared to be designed principally to meet the needs of people with dementia and that communication and information provision was suboptimal.

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