Hospitals in the South West are working to improve standards of care for patients with dementia.
A regional Expert Reference Group made up of clinical leads for dementia, patients and carers, the voluntary sector and service commissioners has developed a set of eight standards to drive improvement.
The standards are about understanding and meeting people’s individual needs, better assessment and discharge, making the hospital environment ‘dementia friendly’, education and training for staff, nutrition and hydration, working with carers families and volunteers, and care towards the end of life.
Alison Moon, NHS South of England (West) Champion for Dementia Care in Hospital and Chief Nurse at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation trust, said:
“We know that a significant proportion of hospital patients will also have dementia, and that number is increasing. The biggest challenge is to ensure that compassionate, skilled staff have the time and resources they need to provide the best care, whether it is in hospital or the patient’s home. We all need to do better for people with dementia.”
Each general hospital in the South west has an action plan in place to improve care and in recent weeks teams of experts have been reviewing progress.
“We found that all general hospitals in the South West have made good progress with implementing the South West Standards for Dementia Care in Hospital, and in many we found examples of outstanding practice.
However, all hospitals face the challenge of spreading this good practice so that, wherever patients with memory problems or dementia are treated in the hospital, they are their carers receive excellent care. If we get care right for people with dementia, we’ll get it right for all patients”
Each hospital in the South West has a Clinical Lead for Dementia, to ensure that dementia care is a priority at all levels and in all settings. The review teams found that most hospitals have a growing number of ‘Dementia Champions’, hospital staff including porters, security staff, nurses, doctors, physiotherapists and managers who have special training, and focus on improving dementia care.
Better links between hospital and community services are helping to prevent unnecessary admissions to hospital, and to ensure people are discharged home as soon as possible. Special attention is being given to making wards more welcoming and less stressful for the confused patients, to ensure that they have enough o drink and that they have help at mealtimes if they need it.
“We have some way to go to be confident that all standards of care are consistently excellent. But we are sure that thee is a huge amount of work under way to provide the best care for patients with dementia, in the right place.”