The Mini-Addenbrooke’s Cognitive Examination (Mini-ACE) is the recommended cognitive impairment screening tool in New Zealand, to assist with dementia diagnosis.
The Mini-ACE replaced the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA©) test in September 2020, as New Zealand’s recommended cognitive screening test. Anyone who conducts cognitive impairment screening should be using the Mini-ACE test, unless they are willing to pay for individual training and certification through the MoCA Institute or they are using an alternate test for some reason.
Carole Kerr, dementia educator and registered nurse, says the initial changeover from 1 August last year went well. “Many practices have made the transition seamlessly and practice nurses are confident using Mini-ACE, after completing the one-hour training. The Mini-ACE is free, easy to use, takes around five minutes to complete, and online training is available on DHB and Ministry of Health learning platforms.”
The use of the Mini-ACE test is not prescriptive, but it is the recommended tool on NZ HealthPathways, for use by primary care and non-specialist dementia services. It evaluates four main cognitive areas – orientation, memory, language and visuospatial function.
Mini-ACE was identified as the most appropriate tool following a Cognitive Impairment Assessment Review last year, to find an alternative to the MoCA. The review was sponsored by the New Zealand Dementia Framework Collaborative and endorsed by the Ministry of Health and the National DHB Health of Older People Steering Group.
There are still health professionals who have not realised about the change from MoCA to Mini-ACE who need to be encouraged to use the new tool, says Carole. “We have to ensure continuity by completing the training and supporting practice nurses with Mini-ACE. It’s a very effective tool to help support a timely diagnosis and it is important that we use the same tool as much as possible.”