20 May 2015

Person centred care vital for people with dementia in hospital

It’s estimated that dementia will affect 1 million people in the UK by 2025. Stripping a person of their memories, causing communication difficulties and impaired brain function, there is no cure for any type of dementia at present.

Being in hospital presents sights, sounds and surroundings that are often unfamiliar, and to a person with dementia it can cause them to become unsettled and distressed. Everything about their daily routine is disrupted, and coupled with the stress of being ill it’s even more important that each person is cared for as an individual.

In this #NurChat and in support of Dementia Awareness Week 2015, we wanted to discuss how healthcare professionals, carers and families can work together for the benefit of the person with dementia in order to make their hospital stay as stress-free as possible.

A person centred approach should take into account the capability of the individual, their preferences and daily routine. This can be a challenge in a hospital environment, which may be extremely busy and staff may not have the specialist knowledge or facilities to fully adjust the care to the individual.

@LadyRo84 Routine is of the essence to easing anxieties of hosp admission, esp for PWD. #nurchat

@EmilyGGB29 Staff need specialist training to enable them to know how to deal with these situations appropriately #nurchat

@RMNtom_UHNM #Nurchat @NurChat working in a hospital we find difficulties in creating a safe environment which is conducive to support those needs

Discharge planning is a crucial part of hospital admission for someone with dementia. An estimated discharge date (EDD) should be stated from the outset and arrangements made to support the return home of the individual can be timed accordingly. This can reduce the chance of a preventable re-admission and causing unnecessary distress to the person or their family.

@shizc1 #NurChat planned discharge otherwise set to fail pwd will be re admitted spend time to get it right first time care packages in place etc

Ensuring staff have the appropriate training is a key consideration of creating a successful personalised care plan. Some #NurChatters highlighted the value of specialist expertise, especially in the form of Admiral Nurses. Despite their value in reducing unnecessary admissions and supporting both families and the individual with dementia, it seems they not well known.

@AdmiralDeb good tip #nurchat 140 admiral Nurses in UK specialist dementia nurses working with families and carers

@DiverseAlz wow. seems Admiral Nurses need more profile. #nurchat

@shizc1 #nurchat asked around this week no one in team had heard of admirals nurses let alone ever seen one 

However, there were several simple and practical tips shared during the #NurChat that can easily help provide a personalised approach. Using sensory signals to help the person with dementia understand what’s happening in their environment was just one idea.

@learnhospice #nurchat staff to wear dressing gowns over uniform at night to help PWD have clue that it is nighttime… other things: use senses like food smells before meals, lighting, warning clues like: it will be lunch soon

Other practical points that were made included:

  • Create a Lifestory profile that clearly shows the likes and dislikes of the individual
  • Understand their familiar triggers and prompts
  • Work with the family / carers to rota visitors to avoid overwhelming them
  • Be patient if communication is slow or confused
  • And most importantly, always consider the person. See the individual, not the disease.

Join us again on #NurChat on 26th May 2015 at 8pm when we’ll be discussing how realistic a true seven-day health service is. See you there!