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Dementia awareness series

Our dementia awareness series explores the needs of people with dementia by showcasing the RCN's programme to improve dementia care in acute hospitals

Our dementia awareness series explores examples of the positive work achieved by trusts that participated in the Royal College of Nursing’s programme to improve dementia care in acute hospitals

Dementia is a hot topic in the care of older people and one of the most common search terms on RCNi’s websites.

We have grouped together a short series of clinical articles from Nursing Older People’s evidence and practice archive showcasing the RCN's development programme to improve dementia care in acute hospitals.

Engaging patients with dementia at Glan Clwyd Hospital
Engaging patients with dementia at Glan Clwyd Hospital
Picture: Neil O’Connor

After an introduction to the programme’s scope and aims, these articles explore understanding the needs of people with dementia and their families; improving activity and engagement; improving the hospital environment; and enabling staff to provide high quality care, including pain assessment in people with communication difficulties. We hope they will help your practice.

Please contact the editor, lisa.berry@rcni.com, with any comments, suggestions or feedback, and help raise awareness of our content by sharing this resource on social media using the weblink rcni.com/dementia-series.

Evidence & practice

Introduction to the transforming dementia care in hospitals series

Introduction to the transforming dementia care in hospitals series
Picture: John Houlihan

This introductory article reports on the independent evaluation of the RCN’s development programme to improve dementia care in acute hospitals. The programme included a launch event, development days, site visits, ongoing support by the RCN lead and carer representatives and a conference to showcase service improvements.

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Understanding the needs of people with dementia and family carers

Understanding the needs of people with dementia and family carers
Picture: Neil O’Connor

When a person with dementia is in hospital, poor understanding of individual needs and preferences can contribute to a lack of person-centred care. Similarly, the needs of family carers can often be overlooked and staff do not always appreciate these needs at such a stressful time. This article illustrates how three NHS trusts have addressed these issues.

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Improving activity and engagement for patients with dementia

Improving activity and engagement for patients with dementia
Picture: Neil O’Connor

Staff often think that there is insufficient time to get to know patients, especially with large and challenging workloads. Combined with a lack of activities for patients with dementia in hospital, this can result in poor engagement and a disconnect between staff and patients. Glan Clwyd Hospital in north Wales has focused on improving stimulation by creating an activity room, providing a relaxed setting where patients with dementia can take part in a range of activities and have lunch together.

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Improving the hospital environment for people with dementia

Improving the hospital environment for people with dementia
Picture: Tim George

The hospital environment is often disorientating for people with dementia and can be particularly distressing when a patient is admitted in an emergency. Subsequent ward moves can also be disruptive, especially if they take place out of hours. Two NHS trusts aimed to improve the experience by addressing the physical environment along with practical aspects of care provision at different stages in the hospital journey.

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Enabling hospital staff to care for people with dementia

Enabling hospital staff to care for people with dementia
Picture: John Houlihan

Dementia training in hospitals is often inadequate and staff do not always have sufficient knowledge of dementia to provide appropriate care. It can also be difficult for them to identify when patients with dementia are in pain, especially when their communication skills deteriorate. The case studies presented illustrate how two NHS trusts have worked to ensure that their staff are fully equipped to care for people with dementia in hospital.

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