Simple solutions to improve dementia care in hospitals

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14 May, 2014

People with dementia have a longer length of stay and worse outcomes than people without dementia who stay in hospitals, with nearly half of those with dementia not having their diagnosis recorded, according to the Hospital Dementia Services Project.

Ahead of a national public lecture tour for Alzheimer’s Australia, Professor Brian Draper, Conjoint Professor in the School of Psychiatry University of New South Wales, has spoken in Perth today about the project, which examined the care of people with dementia in acute hospitals and provided solutions to avoid potentially preventable barriers to quality care.

“There are some hospitals that are already doing wonderful things to provide quality dementia care for their patients, but more needs to be done to lessen the varying quality of care from hospital to hospital,” Professor Draper said.

“Having a skilled specialist and hospital-based geriatric medical services in larger hospitals, ensuring there are specialist aged care staff in Emergency Departments, and investing in staff training, leadership, positive attitudes and attention to the hospital environment are all simple improvements that can give people with dementia a better acute care experience.”

Joan Jackman, a former carer, said that her experiences in dealing with the hospital system while caring for her husband, who had younger onset dementia, opened her eyes to the gaps in the quality of care.

“He was subjected to physical restraint and given an overdose of antipsychotic medication,” Ms Jackman said.

“People with dementia should be treated with the same respect and dignity that we would expect for anyone in our communities.

“Dementia is a terminal condition, and people with dementia are as worthy of quality care as anyone else in our communities.

“Human kindness, respect and consideration are fundamental to caring for our fellow man – and they cost nothing. If we can get this right, we will have taken a giant step towards achieving excellence in care for people with dementia in our hospitals.”

Alzheimer’s Australia National CEO, Glenn Rees said that improving care outcomes for people with dementia in the acute care setting is one part of Dementia Australia’s goal of making Australia a dementia-friendly nation.

“Alzheimer’s Australia is urging the Government to implement the promised $39.2 million over five years to improve hospital care for people with dementia,” Mr Rees said.

Professor Draper will conduct seminars in select major capital cities about the latest research findings from the Hospital Dementia Services Project which examined the care of people with dementia in acute hospitals.

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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]