Dementia Care in an Acute District General Hospital

By Dr Daryl Leung, Clinical Director
Care of the Elderly
New Cross Hospital.

Dr J. Todd, Specialist Trainee in Medicine (CT2 Doctor) 
Care of the Elderly
New Cross Hospital.

Introduction

 Many of the guiding principles at the heart of the New Cross Hospital Dementia Project may be found in this article on the challenges posed by patients with dementia in acute hospitals.

Challenges

Acute sector care for dementia patients is a high priority, requiring a comprehensive and holistic solution.

The duration of hospital stay for all physical illnesses tends to be prolonged by dementia. Dementia complicates the treatment of physical illnesses and increases the probability of morbidity and mortality. Poor and / or uncoordinated hospital care contributes to increased nursing home admissions.

These issues and many related problems tend to be confirmed by the recent audit of Dementia Care in General Hospitals performed by the Royal College of Psychiatrists released on December 16th 2010 (refer to Page Link of this newsletter).

Recommendations

Specific recommendations proposed in this article include:

  • Enhanced communication with patients and carers.
  • Greater attention to hydration and nutrition.
  • Improved hospital design with dementia-friendly environments within the hospital.
  • Better training for all staff and Departments about the nature of physical illness complicated by dementia.

A comprehensive package of education and training for all acute staff caring for dementia patients should include the management of confused-aggressive patients (reducing reliance on anti-psychotic medications), training in person-centred care, dementia care mapping and possibly the use of personal photographs, picture albums and life histories. There is a need for increased dementia awareness and proper assessment of patients presenting to all Departments.

There should be liaison with psychogeriatric teams, and an active role for one or more Dementia Coordinators. The entire patient pathway needs to be considered, involving close liaison with Primary Care, General Practitioners and Social Services, thereby permitting appropriate follow-up arrangements within the community.

These and many other aspects of caring for patients with dementia in the acute sector are touched upon. These considerations have been actively integrated into the New Cross Hospital Dementia Project. Future issues of this Newsletter will provide regular updates on progress.

Full Text Link

Reference

Leung, D. [and] Todd, J. (2010). Dementia care in the acute district general hospital. Clinical Medicine, Vol.10(3), pp. 220-222.

3 Responses to Dementia Care in an Acute District General Hospital

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