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Hospitals must adapt to better support dementia patients

40% of older people in acute wards may have dementia

Jo Carlowe

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Hospitals must adapt to meet the needs of dementia patients.

At the RCN Congress, which took place this week in Glasgow, The Royal College of Nursing passed a resolution to lobby for better policy to ensure “a fair deal for dementia patients and carers when admitted to acute care”.

People living with dementia end up in every kind of ward but only wards for older people are appropriately adapted to meet their needs, said the RCN.

Within acute hospitals, older people occupy some 60% of beds and of these, 40% may have dementia.

In a recent RCN survey, 45% of nurses said dementia would prove the biggest health issue of the future, with 84% already seeing their work affected by the ageing population.

In 2011, the RCN called for five SPACE principles to be implemented to improve care for people with dementia and those around them. Five years on, the organisation notes that it is still waiting for the NHS to put these into action. 

Dawne Garrett, Professional Lead for Care of Older People and Dementia for the RCN said: “There have been big improvements in awareness and understanding of dementia in recent years, but the experience of too many people who go into hospital is still falling short.  

“Nurses have led the way in developing support for people living with dementia, and those who care for them, which makes a huge difference to the distress and confusion many experience during a hospital visit. But the reality too often involves long waits on trolleys, separation from loved ones, and in some cases being moved around at night.”

She added: “It is vital that improvements are made so that nobody suffers unnecessary distress. This is partly about the hospital environment and processes, but it is also about better provision in the community and improved social care.

“Many of us will be affected by dementia in the future, and we need to act. Better treatments are part of the solution but we need better strategies in place right now to minimise distress and offer the best care.”

There are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over one million by 2025. This will increase to two million by 2051.

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