Think delirium

Thursday, 26 May 2016

The Acute Medical Unit (AMU) at Southmead Hospital has adapted two of its rooms which have been specifically designed to help put delirious patients at ease.

The team – which is often the first port of call for patients when they are admitted to hospital – estimates that around 20 to 30 percent of its patients experience delirium which is described as acute confusion and is a clear sign that someone is very unwell.

It can be caused by a number of reasons including pain, infection, constipation, hydration, medication or the environment.

As part of Think Delirium – a week where the symptoms and treatment of delirious patients are being highlighted, staff from the unit, including AMU consultant Dr Ella Chaudhuri and Ruth Jones from the complex assessment and liaison service, are raising awareness of the condition amongst colleagues throughout the hospital.

Bev Davies, AMU Sister, explained: “Delirious patients are incredibly vulnerable. By adapting these rooms we are able to provide a safe place where we can work with them to put them at ease.

“When they are delirious, simple things like wires hanging down from the back of a monitor can turn into writhing snakes – as you can imagine, this causes extreme distress.

“By identifying these things in advance, staff can take measures to ensure triggers that could cause additional anxiety are removed.”

The rooms feature red rails and toilet seats which are clearly visible for delirious patients and larger signs and clocks.

 Other measures that have been introduced are brightly coloured cups, non-slip trays and mirrors which have material attached which can be pulled down to avoid patients becoming distressed at their own reflections.