Dementia friendly hospital
University Hospital of North Staffordshire has pledged to screen all patients for dementia that are aged 75 or over and admitted as an emergency. Making this process a formal part of nursing assessment, theTrust has also started to implement the process on patients who are over 75 and admitted electively. The Trust has also been providing nursing assistants with training to improve the management of dementia patients, following the recommendations of the Francis Inquiry.
Liz Rix, Chief Nurse, said: "We are all very aware of the increasing need to care for people in our society with dementia. In 2012, David Cameron pledged to make a real difference to the lives of people with dementia and their families and carers by launching 'the dementia challenge'. At UHNS we are fully on-board with this challenge and are continually improving the way in which we care for people with the disease.
"We aim to provide the best care possible and believe that a person-centred approach involving the patient, their families and carers is the way to do this."
On admission patients, their families or their carers are asked simple questions relating to short-term memory loss. If the patient shows signs of memory loss they are assessed using an evidenced based tool known as 6-CIT, a score is applied and the result determines the next step. Either no immediate action is required and the patient is assessed again by their GP in three to six months, or the patient is referred to mental health services for a full assessment.
Liz continued: "It is so important that people who have dementia, their families and careers feel reassured and supported. The sooner we identify that a patient is showing signs of dementia, the better we can tailor their care. Recognising a patients individual capabilities and helping everyone involved in the care of the patient to understand and manage the illness is a vital part of enriching their lives.
"If a patient is admitted to hospital, or diagnosed whilst in hospital with dementia, the clinical teams have a greater opportunity to access additional support services for them when they are discharged home."
Rachel Booth, a nursing assistant who has undergone the new dementia training, said: "The training course is tailored specifically for nursing assistants and teaches us all about dementia and how to identify and treat the different types of the disease. The course has helped us in spotting the signs of dementia in our patients and care for them appropriately with dignity and respect."
The screening and assessment is not only limited to patients over the age of 75, staff use clinical discretion for screening of patients below this age.