Delirium is a medical emergency: an acute state of confusion that commonly affects older people, especially those admitted to hospital. It is hugely distressing for patients, families and carers and increases the risk of mortality. Other potentially serious consequences include longer hospital stays, falls, loss of independence and cognitive decline.

This collection of articles aims to help nurses and care staff to prevent delirium. If prevention is not possible, however, staff should be able to recognise delirium and assess and manage patients in a timely manner.

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Treat delirium as a medical emergency

Delirium is a medical emergency and risk reduction should be considered throughout care


World Delirium Day: nurses will raise awareness of signs, symptoms and treatment

Features of the condition include disorientation, hallucinations and lack of responsiveness

4AT assessment

Improving the identification of patients with delirium using the 4AT assessment

Delirium is a common neuropsychiatric disorder that all those working with older people will...

Recognising and managing delirium in patients receiving palliative and end of life care

Recognising and managing delirium in patients receiving palliative and end of life care

Why you should read this article: » To improve your awareness of the causes of delirium in...

male in-patient lies in bed

When someone with dementia has delirium, they may well be in pain too

Assessing for delirium helps nurses spot and control patients’ unspoken pain

Social isolation in older people

Lifting the barriers to mental healthcare for older people

New resources are tackling the stigma and social issues that restrict access to care

Could it be delirium?

A campaign to increase awareness of delirium urges swift action to prevent harm

No longer a backwater, care homes offer a career

Care homes can be vibrant places to work, with a clear career structure

Assessment and management of older patients with delirium in acute settings

Care of older patients with delirium in hospital

This article aims to assist nurses and nursing students to consider the presentation of...

Dementia and delirium: making late-night patient transfers a thing of the past

A nurse-led project to avoid moving patients at night has helped reduce the risk of anxiety...

Sedative may prevent delirium in critical patients in intensive care

A low dose of the sedative dexmedetomidine given at night may prevent delirium in critically...

How do I improve delirium care for older surgical patients?

A serious condition with poor outcomes, delirium is best prevented by early identification...

Practical strategies to help develop dementia-friendly hospital wards

Hospital stays can have significant negative effects for people with dementia. This article...

Recognising delirium in the community

When older people develop delirium, it can land them in hospital and set off a cycle of...

Prevention, recognition and management of delirium in patients who are critically ill

Delirium is common in patients who are critically ill, often resulting in extended hospital...


Read our clinical update on an RCN campaign to help nurses spot the signs of delirium.

RCN calls on nurses to become ‘delirium champions’ in bid to improve care

The RCN has launched a project to help NHS staff spot the signs of delirium among patients.

Poor survival rate seen for cancer patients with delirium

Patients with advanced cancer who present at emergency departments with delirium have a poor...