Dementia and Delirium
Approximately 25% of hospital beds will be occupied by patients with dementia at any given time and we want to make sure that these patients get the best care possible.
The Executive Lead for Dementia is the Trust’s Chief Nurse supported by a dedicated Dementia and Delirium team. The team work across both hospital sites to support the operational delivery of the national and local dementia agenda. To contact a member of the team, please call the switch board on 01708 435 000.
Our Trust is working towards being a Dementia Friendly Hospital and to achieve this we have implemented a variety of initiatives to help us deliver the best possible care for our patients with dementia and to support their families and carers.
- Butterfly Scheme - this is a national initiative to improve patient safety and well-being in hospitals and helps staff to recognise when a patient has dementia or delirium. Staff are also trained in the best way to communicate with patients with dementia and delirium
- ‘This is me’ form – this is a sheet which contains information about a patient’s cultural and family background, events, people and places from their lives, preferences, routines and their personality. It helps professionals from health and social care backgrounds to build a better understanding of the patient they are caring for. 'This is me' can be accessed via the following link. 'This is me' (Alzheimer's Society)
- Dementia and Delirium Care Plan - this identifies the individual needs of the person and promotes person centred care
- ‘John’s Campaign’ - this recognises the important role of those who care for people who are living with dementia and that carers should be welcomed and encouraged by health care staff. These ideas are reflected in our Carer Policy and Carer Support Plan
- Holistic Therapies – we have a range of innovative therapies including pet therapy, twiddle muffs, fidget blankets/toys and Reminiscence Interactive Therapy Activities that are available to provide distraction and comfort for a person living with dementia during their hospital stay
- Trolley tea parties – held for inpatients on the last Friday of every month across both of our hospitals. The tea parties aim to improve the experience of our patients in our hospitals by getting patients and their relatives/ carers involved in a fun social activity.
We aim to make a positive difference for people living with dementia by providing education, support and advice for all staff, patients and relatives or carers.
The word dementia describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Lewy Body or a series of strokes.
Dementia will affect each individual differently so a person-centred approach is required to ensure the appropriate care is delivered.
If you are worried about your memory or think you may have dementia it’s a good idea to see your GP.
Memory problems don't necessarily mean you have dementia. These problems can also be caused by other factors, such as:
- depression and anxiety
- delirium (confusion caused by medical conditions, such as infections)
- thyroid problems
- side effects of medication
To help rule out other causes of memory problems your GP will organise blood tests and you’ll also be asked to do a memory or cognitive test to measure your memory or ability to think clearly. The GP may also ask about whether you are finding it difficult to manage everyday activities such as washing, dressing, cooking, shopping or managing your finances.
Getting a diagnosis gives you and your family the best chance to prepare and plan for the future. With treatment and support from healthcare professionals, family and friends, many people living with dementia are able to lead active, fulfilling lives.
Delirium occurs when an individual becomes acutely confused due to a physical problem or a change in environment. Older people, particularly those with a cognitive impairment, are mostly vulnerable to delirium. People with dementia can also have delirium which will make their dementia symptoms appear a lot more advanced. It is very important that delirium is recognised, as it is treatable and reversible.
There are two main forms of delirium:
- Hyperactive - characterised by increased motor activity, with agitation, hallucination and inappropriate behaviour
- Hypoactive - characterised by reduced motor activity and lethargy
- Old age
- Chest infection
- Sensory impairments
- Severe illness
- Multiple medications
- Sleep deprivation
- Alcohol abuse
- Hip fracture
- Environmental changes
- Bladder catheterisation
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Loss and bereavement
Signs may include a sudden onset of:
- Disturbance of consciousness
- Unusual behaviour
- Diminished level of environmental awareness
- Appearing confused or fearful
- Incoherent speech
- Illusions or hallucinations
- Reduced attention and concentration
- Memory impairment
- Less active or more active
Dementia Strategy 2023-2027
Our five year Dementia Strategy 2023-2027 identifies a number of commitments which have been produced following consultation with a wide range of stakeholders including clinical, non-clinical, carers, public and voluntary sector representatives. During the term of the previous Dementia Strategy we encountered restrictions and challenges as a result of COVID-19 which impacted our ability to deliver on some of the commitments. These have been reviewed and where possible made a priority as part of our new strategy.
The six commitments in this strategy recognise the work already undertaken by our Dementia team and builds on projects, service improvements, and process developments already achieved. The commitments are:
- Person Centred Care is key to ensuring all patients receive the most appropriate care aimed at promoting as positive an experience as possible, enhancing psychological and emotional wellbeing.
- Skilled Workforce – ensure our staff have access to the right training and support.
- Environment – acute hospitals are not designed with the dementia patient in mind, but simple changes such as lighting, floor covering and signposting can make a big difference.
- Communication is a major trigger for increased anxieties, frustration and misunderstanding. Effective communication is key; it puts the patient at the centre of all that we do.
- Partnership Working – working collaboratively with agencies, carers and patients can lead to better care for people living with dementia.
- End of Life Care – as a Trust we commit to promote a dignified and supportive environment for the person living with dementia at the end of their life.