Caring for Patients with Dementia

The care of elderly patients, particularly those with dementia, is very high on the agenda for the NHS.

Across the board it has been widely acknowledged that more should be done to support patients with dementia, their carers and the staff that are looking after them.

Here at North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT), and in partnership with colleagues at neighbouring University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (UH Bristol), we have begun rolling out a series of measures to make caring for patients with dementia a top priority.

The Trust have established a dementia care team with medical, nursing and training leads. There is an improvement plan which is based on the hospital standards in dementia care and the team are working with this to implement changes.

These principles have been adopted by the Trust:

  1. Education for staff: All staff, whether clinical or non-clinical, will have dementia awareness training to recognise the signs of dementia and to generally raise awareness of the issues affecting people with dementia and their families. Staff who work with older adults will receive extra training to help them provide the most appropriate care for people with dementia
  2. Dementia champions: All wards and departments have identified dementia champions who receive additional regular training and support. Their role is to support patients with dementia and staff by promoting good practice in this area and they also provide feedback to the dementia care team.
  3. Environment: The trust was awarded £15,000 from the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge funds to improve the environment of care for people with dementia. This money has been highlighted for wards on level 5 where the many of people with dementia will be during their stay. Changes include clocks for every patient room, larger white boards so nurses can write information for individual patients, a sign on the bathroom door, a door hook so that the “This is me” document  can be available for all to read, corridor seating and a reminiscence wall  to provide a focal point for discussion.
  4. Nutritional care: Specific assessments for elderly patients to make sure they are eating and drinking enough have already been rolled out across the Trust. Elderly patients are particularly susceptible to malnutrition and we are committed to ensure that this doesn’t happen whilst they are with us.

Information on dementia including care in hospital and the hospital discharge processes can be found on the Alzheimers Society factsheets www.alzheimers.org.uk/factsheets

Alzheimers Society "This is me" is a document where information relevant to each person and their likes/dislikes is written by the person with dementia or their relatives to help staff on the wards care for individuals. If available on admission this can help staff provide person centred care from as soon as possible www.alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/download_info.php?downloadID=399