[This abstract first appeared in: Dementia: the Latest Evidence Newsletter RWHT Volume 1 Issue 7 February 2011].
This report covers the issues for NHS Trusts in caring for patients with dementia (many of whom may have been admitted for other conditions). The emphasis is on improving the quality and efficiency of acute care for these people simultaneously.
Shortening the length of stay has the potential to reduce unnecessary costs. Initiatives include the improvement of staff training, to help staff identify patients with dementia and manage hospital admissions and discharges intelligently. Patients have been helped using colour coding on doors and signs, and illustrated menus. The introduction of nutrition assistants on hospital wards ensures patients receive correct nutritional care and hydration. The over-use of anti-psychotic drugs is cited as a particular issue that needs to be addressed.
The appointment of a lead clinician to bear the responsibility for coordinating and promoting improved care for patients with dementia brings improvements, as do the development of liaison services and increased staff training to improve dementia awareness among staff.
Examples of “best practice” and innovative work which NHS Trusts and cross-agency partnerships are undertaking to enhance patient care are provided. Specific projects noted for their promise include the work of the Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust, the role of nutrition assistants at Harrogate, the impact of environmental improvements at Mid Cheshire Hospital and the work of the mental health liaison team in Leeds.
This report offers a list of challenging questions for boards to consider and suggestions for policy developments which will help in implementing the National Dementia Strategy.
Suarez, P. and Farrington-Douglas, J. (2010). Acute awareness: improving hospital care for people with dementia. London: The NHS Confederation, 2010.