Improving dementia care in hospitals is no pie in the sky

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13 June, 2014

Hospital care for people with dementia can be improved in order to achieve better clinical outcomes as well as more efficient use of health spending, an Alzheimer’s Australia report launched today has suggested.

The report, Dementia care in the acute hospital setting: issues and strategies launched during the Dementia Behaviour Management Advisory Services Symposium in Western Australia, identifies a range of practical strategies to improve acute care for people with dementia.

"People with dementia struggle to get appropriate care in many hospitals. Dementia is often not recognised, and even when it is, appropriate care is not always provided," Glenn Rees, CEO Alzheimer’s Australia, said.

"Patients with dementia in hospitals currently face up to a five-fold increase in mortality rates because they are more likely to experience an adverse event such as falls, sepsis or pressure ulcers while in hospital.

"Improving the outcomes for people with dementia in hospitals begins with providing better care. Simple strategies such as appropriately identifying whether a person has a cognitive impairment and involving carers in developing care pathways for the person with dementia can go a long way towards achieving better care.

"There are already some successful initiatives in place like the TOP5 program used in some NSW hospitals, which has proved to be an effective tool for engaging carers of the person with dementia. The program enables carers to communicate their top five care strategies for the person with dementia to assist health care professionals to enhance the quality of care provided to the patient.

"These initiatives are improving care for people with dementia but more needs to be done to look at how such successful programs can be rolled out nationally. The Australian Government’s commitment of $39.2 million over five years to improve hospitals for people with dementia as part of the 2012 Aged Care Reforms is a crucial first step."

The issues and strategies summarised in the report were discussed at the Dementia Care in Hospitals Symposium held in Sydney on 29 April 2014. The symposium brought together leading dementia researchers and experts who discussed the latest findings on current dementia care as well as interventions and strategies to improve the quality of care.

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Alzheimer’s Australia is the charity for people with dementia and their families and carers. As the peak body, it provides advocacy, support services, education and information. More than 332,000 people have dementia in Australia. This number is projected to reach more than half a million by 2030.

National Dementia Helpline: 1800 100 500 
An interpreter service is available 
(The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government Initiative) 
Dementia is a National Health Priority Area

Media enquiries: Sharon Akinyi / 0439 940 514 / [email protected]