Improving the care of people with dementia care in hospitals
Hospital admissions are a daunting prospect for anyone, but more so for those with a cognitive impairment. There are, however, many simple things that all staff can undertake which will go a long way to improving a person’s experience in hospital.
Nicola Wood, Team Leader, Liaison Psychiatry and Yvonne Cairns, National Dementia Champion have been working together on improvement work around the care of people with dementia who come into hospital. Part of this work includes delivering ward-based training sessions around dementia and delirium to staff.
Part of the training sessions offered focuses on the use of the ‘getting to know me’ document. This is a simple tool that can be offered to anyone but is particularly useful for those with dementia. The document allows us to get to know the person, understand who and what is important to them and what their likes and dislikes are. This promotes person centred care and ideally should be offered at the earliest opportunity. Completed forms should now be kept at the patient’s bed space rather than filed in case notes to allow for easier access for all members of the multi-disciplinary team including housekeeping staff. This document belongs to the patient so should be returned to them on transfer or discharge.
Evidence tells us that patients with cognitive or sensory impairments drink 84% more fluids if it is served in a coloured rather than a clear tumbler. Coloured tumblers have been distributed to all inpatient areas and we would encourage their use.
We currently have 22 Dementia Champions throughout NHS Forth Valley with a further five due to complete the course later this year. The champions meet monthly so that they are provided with updates of the work being undertaken for the National Dementia Strategy which they are then asked to disseminate to their clinical areas. The meetings also provide opportunities for the Champions to discuss any areas for improvement in their own environments. Staff members should familiarise themselves with their nearest Dementia Champion. The Dementia Champions also use many of their meetings to organise teaching sessions which all staff are welcome to attend. Ward SCNs will all have a copy of the future training topics and dates.
People with dementia can often have restless hands and benefit from something to keep them occupied. Twiddlemuffs are hand knitted muffs with various interesting materials attached inside and out including buttons, beads, ribbons or any other fabric. This provides a source of visual, tactile and sensory stimulation which has been found to provide reassurance and comfort the person using it both in the hospital or home environments. The knitting pattern is very simple and we would be delighted if any willing knitters would like to donate a twiddlemuff for use in one of our inpatient areas. Please drop off donations to either a ward area or the main reception at any of our sites.
Download the pattern here.