Hospitals Can Improve Care For Patients With Dementia Without Rising Costs

Thursday, 01 April, 2010

A report published today by the NHS Confederation encourages hospitals to rethink the ways they provide care for people with dementia.

The report, Acute awareness: Improving hospital care for people with dementia, highlights the changes that can be made to improve the quality of care patients receive in acute hospitals without large additional costs.

A substantial rise in the numbers of people suffering from dementia is expected to put increased pressure on the NHS in England in the coming decades and hospitals willing be giving consideration now to how patients are cared for, how services are co-ordinated and how staff are trained to help identify patients with the condition.

The report highlights a number of examples of improved acute care for people with dementia including improved training for staff so they can identify patients with dementia and better manage hospital admissions. It cites changes hospitals have made to help patients by having colour coding on doors and signs, and illustrated menus to aid patients' association with objects. It also details the introduction of nutrition assistants on hospital wards to ensure all patients receive the right nutritional care.

The NHS Confederation says there is a strong case for hospitals having a lead clinician responsible for co-ordinating and championing improved care for patients with dementia including the development of liaison services and increased staff training. This role would help improve the knowledge of dementia amongst staff and lead to better care and improved discharge processes, it says.

Jo Webber, deputy director of policy at the NHS Confederation, said:

"We know that the numbers of people suffering from dementia is due to grow to over 1 million people in the next 30 years so it is vital our health service is fully prepared.

"Having a clinical lead in each hospital taking charge of its dementia strategy would go a long way to drive the standards up to the best and in many cases help reduce a patient's length of stay.

"There are some excellent examples of acute hospitals improving care for patients with dementia. Rolling these out across all hospitals in England would help increase staff awareness of the condition and improve the co-ordination of care for patients who may receive ongoing treatment and care after being discharged from hospital. "

A copy of the report is available from the NHS Confederation press office.

Return to news menu