Resource to improve hospital care of people with dementia

Issue date: 23 February 2005

Issue date: 23/02/05

A research fellow at the University of the West of England is hoping to improve the way people with dementia are cared for in hospital through a new resource pack designed especially for nurses.

Researcher Dr Rachel Norman, a registered general nurse, spent three years investigating the experiences of people with dementia in general hospital settings during a research project funded by the Mental Health Foundation. The findings from the research suggested that patients with dementia who were recognised in terms of their individuality and wholeness experienced an improved hospital admission (Norman 2003).

Using this as a baseline Rachel designed an interactive and educational resource to encourage and enable nursing staff to widen their perspective of dementia and begin to ‘get to know’ the person with dementia that they are caring for.

Funding has now been secured for the resource to be sent to each acute NHS trust in the UK, free of charge.

The resource offers concrete examples of three key themes: the need to consider the social, individual and medical models of dementia; the importance of seeing action in terms of communication and ways to maximise interaction with people with dementia.

The resource consists of a large poster to be displayed in hospital wards and an information-gathering sheet for nursing staff to complete as they care for people with dementia. The information-gathering sheet is a crucial part of the resource and is designed to be individualised for each patient. The resource encourages nursing staff to consider the variety of ways in which patients communicate their views and wishes; and it also encourages staff to consider the many methods through which information on each patient can be collected.

Dr Rachel Norman says, “In the late 1990s, the care provided to older people in hospital settings, and to people with dementia specifically, faced much criticism. The research from which this resource has been developed aimed to explore how people with dementia were looked after in medical and surgical settings and investigate the views of service providers and patients alike. The resource has been designed to inform nursing practice and offer nurses and healthcare assistants ways to ‘get to know’ the person that they are looking after. Through this process, the process of ‘getting to know the person with dementia’, it is hoped that their experience of hospitalisation can be improved.”


Editor’s notes

Norman.R (2003) Acute nursing care for people with dementia. What happens when a person with dementia is admitted to hospital for acute care? Unpublished PhD thesis. University of the West of England, Bristol.

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