Getting it right for people with dementia in hospital

The care of older people with dementia is a critical issue for hospitals. An estimated 850,000 people in the UK live with dementia and it is thought that around a quarter of all people in hospital have dementia.

Prevalence of dementia increases with age, as does the average length of time people spend in hospital if they’re admitted.

This means getting care right for people with dementia should be a central component of good hospital services. For a number of years the National Audit of Dementia has been examining how well hospitals are doing at meeting the needs of people with dementia and their families and carers.

In this guest blog, Chloe Snowdon, Deputy Programme Manager of the Audit, explains what they are looking for and how you can get involved.

This summer almost 200 hospitals across England and Wales will take part in the National Audit of Dementia which measures the quality of care that people with dementia receive in hospital.

People with dementia say that the support of family and friends is one of the most important things for them during a hospital admission. Carers and family are very often involved in personal care and in helping staff to understand care needs when a person with dementia goes into hospital.

The National Audit of Dementia collects feedback from carers and family about the care experience which we feedback to the hospitals, and make available to the public.

The audit looks at many different aspects of care, including assessment and discharge, staff training and staff support. As part of this, the carer questionnaire measures carer involvement, the quality of communication and asks for an overall rating of the care delivered.

Responses from carers give the hospital a score for their quality of care. Hospital scores are made public and the Care Quality Commission uses them as part of their hospital inspection process.

The scores are displayed by MyNHS, and you can compare hospital scores.

The questionnaire also asks for comments from carers. These are reported back to the hospitals and provide valuable detail helping the hospital to understand what leads to a good or bad care experience.

Carers in the last round of audit commented most frequently on how well staff in the hospital understood dementia and/or the needs of the person, and how well staff communicated with the carer.

“Staff were warm and friendly and built a good rapport with mum”

“Carers can only visit in the afternoons and have to rely on the patient to relate what the doctor has told them. At best this is incomplete and unreliable”

Hospitals will be handing out questionnaires to family and carers who visit people with dementia between 4 June and 21 September. During that time, you can also complete the questionnaire online at www.CARERQ.org.uk.

If you want to see if your hospital is taking part, please check this list, or contact the National Audit of Dementia team at NAD@rcpsych.ac.uk.

Author: Age UK

Age UK is the new force combining Age Concern and Help the Aged. We have a vision of a world in which older people flourish. We aim to improve later life for everyone through our information and advice, campaigns, products, training and research. Age UK supports and assists a network of over 170 local Age UKs, which between them provide an extensive network throughout England. The Age UK family also includes Age Scotland, Age Cymru and Age NI.

6 thoughts on “Getting it right for people with dementia in hospital”

  1. I honestly and have long since believed that student nurses must have a minimum of 12-months experience “hands-on” in a residential / nursing or dementia care setting. Incredible and absolutely mind-boggling how many qualified nursing staff I’ve met on wards (and in the community) with no clue whatsoever about caring for people with dementia and supporting their families.

  2. Actually I might come back to this and elaborate further and link back to this post. There’s an awful lot to cover on this subject!!

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