Hospitals can be a dangerous place for people with dementia

Media Release

Thursday 28 January 2016

Hospitals can be a dangerous place for people with dementia

A new campaign being launched today aims to make hospitals safer and less confusing places for people with dementia.

Alzheimer’s Australia is pleased to be a supporting partner of the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care’s Caring for Cognitive Impairment Campaign, a national campaign which recognises that people with dementia or delirium (common conditions of cognitive impairment) are at significantly higher risk of preventable adverse events such as falls, pressure injuries, longer stays and even death, while in hospital. 

Alzheimer’s Australia CEO, Carol Bennett says, “the evidence shows hospitals can be a dangerous place for people with dementia. Cognitive impairment is often not detected or it is misdiagnosed, we know that 30-40% of cases of delirium in hospitals can be prevented.” 

“We welcome the Commission’s leadership in this important area, calling for action to unite everyone who cares for people with cognitive impairment, from doctors and nurses, to carers and families to get involved and do what they can to improve the prevention, recognition and treatment of delirium and to reduce the risk of harm for people with dementia in hospitals. 

“With an estimated 342,800 Australians currently living with dementia in Australia, more and more of our ageing population requiring hospitalisation will have dementia, this increasing number of vulnerable people need to be supported by improving the quality of hospital care.” Ms Bennett said.

Alzheimer’s Australia is delighted that the Commission is addressing quality of care through the development of Cognitive Impairment Standards which will be part of the National Safety and Quality Health Service Standards, against which hospitals will be assessed. 

Imelda Gilmore who cares for her husband Graham, who is living with dementia, welcomes the initiative.

“The campaign is a very important step in educating hospital staff to be aware that the carer who accompanies the patient is their greatest asset, to ensure the care that clinical staff provide will achieve the best result.” Mrs Gilmore said.

There are a number of great initiatives underway around Australia, for example,  

  • Alzheimer’s Australia has been working with Associate Professor Mark Yates and his team on the “Dementia Care in Hospitals” program which through consultation and engagement with consumers, focuses on education for all hospital staff, linked to a bed-side cognitive impairment identifier. 
  • The Top-5 Program is a patient-based care model focused on improving communication between clinicians and carers. Together the carer and clinician identify the top 5 strategies to assist the person with dementia in hospital.
  • Care of Confused Hospitalised Older Persons (CHOPS) aims to improve the experience and outcomes for people who may have dementia in hospitals. 

Ms Bennett said the new national campaign is an opportunity for the great work already being undertaken to be reviewed and shared to ensure we create a very different experience for people with dementia in hospitals. 

“That experience should be one where hospitals are not dangerous and confusing but rather a place where people with dementia can be supported as they should be.” Ms Bennett concluded.

To support the Caring for Cognitive Impairment Campaign please visit: www.cognitivecare.gov.au

Media enquiries:

Bianca Armytage | 0407 019 430 | bianca.armytage@dementia.org.au


Alzheimer’s Australia is the peak body representing people with dementia and their families and carers. It provides advocacy, support services, education and information. More than 342,800 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


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