The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) will today (21 September) launch a new commitment to the care of people with dementia in general hospitals.

Along with key stakeholders, including the Department of Health, Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia UK, the RCN has set out a framework for improving the care of people with dementia in hospitals. The framework highlights key factors which are essential to delivering good quality care.

As part of the commitment, the RCN has established the top five factors in supporting good dementia care, which are:

  1. Staff who are skilled and have time to care.
  2. Partnership working with carers.
  3. Assessment and early identification of dementia.
  4. Care plans which are person centred and individualised.
  5. Environments that are dementia friendly.

The commitment has been produced following a survey of carers and people living with dementia, and one with practitioners in which respondents expressed clear views on how care in general hospitals can be improved. Enhancing awareness and understanding among all staff, both of the needs of people with dementia and their families and carers was a clear priority. A greater involvement of families in care was also considered extremely important in improving communication and recognising needs.

Royal College of Nursing Chief Executive & General Secretary Dr Peter Carter said: “There is an urgent need to improve the experience of people with dementia, who are cared for in general hospitals. General hospital environments can be particularly confusing for people living with dementia and these principles represent a shared commitment from a whole range of stakeholders to improving care, providing guidance and best practice.”

Professor Alistair Burns, National Clinical Director for Dementia at the Department of Health, said: “We know that many people in hospital have dementia but that the diagnosis sometimes goes unrecognised.  Raising awareness of the needs of people with dementia in a busy hospital environment is vitally important and the RCN are to be congratulated in completing this important initiative.”

Dr Peter Connelly, Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ Faculty of Old Age Psychiatry, said: “The Royal College of Psychiatrists very much welcomes this new commitment. The care of people with dementia who have significant physical health problems is complex. Careful assessment and skillful management is essential. Staff in general hospitals need to improve their expertise and understanding of the management of people with dementia under their care. We know, however, that many people with dementia who have significant physical problems are managed in hospitals other than acute general hospitals, namely psychiatric hospitals and GP-led community hospitals. We therefore call for this commitment to be extended to other hospital environments as well.”

Louise Lakey, Alzheimer’s Society Policy Manager, said: “One in four people in hospital wards have dementia yet there are currently unacceptable variations in the levels of care they receive. As a result many people are leaving hospital in worse health than when they went in. This new commitment has the power to make the gold standard we know exists in many hospitals the norm. It is now essential that hospital trusts sign up and commit to taking this forward.”

The commitment will be launched at an event today at Aintree racecourse hosted by the RCN and St Helens & Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, featuring speeches from Professor Alistair Burns, National Clinical Director for Dementia, Rachel Thompson, Dementia Project Lead at the Royal College of Nursing and Angela Rippon OBE, Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador.

Written and provided by the Royal College of Nursing




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