Improvements still needed in dementia care

The RCN calls for urgent changes to care in hospital settings

The RCN has voiced its frustration at the long wait for its wish list of dementia care improvements to be implemented by the NHS.

Five years ago the college developed its 5 SPACE principles to improve care in hospital settings and is still waiting for them to be actioned – a situation made more urgent by the rising number of people with dementia in the UK. 

There are more than 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with the number set to increase to more than 1 million by 2025. This figure will rise to 2 million by 2051.

RCN professional lead for care of older people and dementia Dawne Garrett said understanding of dementia had improved, but changes in hospital experiences and care were needed to ensure patients did not experience unnecessary distress.

She said: ‘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.’

Better strategies are needed in hospitals and the community if we want to act now, she added.

Large percentage

The RCN said within acute hospitals, older people occupy about 60% of beds and, of these patients, 40% may have dementia.

A recent RCN survey found that 45% of nurses thought dementia would become biggest health issue of the future, with 84% already seeing their work affected by the ageing population.

SPACE principles

SPACE stands for:

  • Staff who are skilled and have time to care
  • Partnership working with carers
  • Assessment and early identification
  • Care that is individualised
  • Environments that are dementia friendly

Further information:

RCN: Dementia - Commitment to the care of people with dementia in hospital settings




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