Hospital dementia report 'alarming'
Published on 12 July 2013 11:30 AM
A major new report has exposed 'alarming' omissions in the care of dementia patients in hospitals despite improvements in some areas.
Many dementia patients are not given important health assessments during their stay in hospital, according to researchers from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
And they discovered that 2 out of 5 hospitals are not providing dementia awareness training to new staff.
Around 1 in 10 (11%) hospitals does not even provide such training to nurses, according to the report.
Tests to ascertain patients' mental health and whether they are experiencing delirium are said to be at an 'alarmingly low' level.
Fewer than half of older patients with dementia are assessed for delirium even though it is widely known that many suffer from confusion while they are in hospital.
Delirium is a state of confusion that can develop when someone becomes medically unwell.
The authors point out that it 'is associated with greater risks of longer admission, hospital acquired infections, admission to long-term care, and death'.
They add that a failure to assess a patient's mental health needs can prevent them from being appropriately assessed and cared for in terms of their physical needs.
In spite of some improvements, 'much still needs to be done'
The report was based on an audit of 8,000 dementia patients, with the authors finding that only half had received an assessment of their mental state during their time in hospital.
Its conclusions were not wholly negative, however, as it found that 'several aspects of care have improved' since the last audit in 2011 and the number of patients given anti-psychotic drugs has decreased.
Professor Peter Crome, chair of the National Audit of Dementia steering group, described it as 'pleasing' that improvements have been made in dementia care.
'However, much still needs to be done and there remains a large gap between what hospitals say should happen and what actually does happens,' he added.
'Everyone working in the NHS must accept that the care of people with dementia is a core part of its business. Hopefully, with strong leadership at all levels, future audit will show further positive change.'
Copyright Press Association 2013