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Hospital nurses need more support when discharging patients with dementia

Admiral nurse says staff in acute care lack support from post-discharge services

Nurses in acute care need more support to improve the discharge of patients with dementia, an Admiral nurse said.

He was responding to a 'shocking' report from the Alzheimer's Society which was published yesterday (18 January) that found evidence of poor and variable standards of care in its review of hospitals in England.  The charity said people with dementia were being forced to play ‘Russian roulette’ with their health.

The review found people with dementia are being inappropriately discharged at night, a practice that is considered unsafe because this group is are less likely to be able to access care and support.

The report also found 28% of people over the age of 65 who fell in hospital had dementia; 92% of people affected by dementia thought hospitals are frightening for people with dementia; and only 2% said all hospital staff understood their specific needs. 

Responding to the report, Admiral nurse Dave Bell, who works with Dementia UK, said: ‘There is a much bigger picture here than just hospital care on acute wards.

‘Nurses regularly struggle to get the support they need from other services who are meant to take over the care of dementia patients once they are discharged.

‘Dementia UK said if cuts to social care continued then we would see increases in admissions to acute hospitals – and it appears it’s being proved right.’

Mr Bell pointed to work being done by a number of trusts to improve the experience and care for patients who have dementia, including the creation of a specialist dementia ward at King's College Hospital in London.

He added: ‘Their nurses get full support from occupational therapists and other staff who provide stimulation and activities in an environment that is much more calming and familiar for patients.

‘Acute wards are busy, they are chaotic, and this can be upsetting and confusing for people who struggle to understand what is going on.

‘Studies have shown where trusts invest in dementia services it speeds up discharge times, reduces re-admittance rates and even contributes towards staff retention levels too.’

A Department of Health spokesperson said dementia was a key priority and in recent years £50 million had been invested in services while training had been provided for 500,000 staff.

Read the full Alzheimer's Society report here

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