A Midlands hospital has created two nursing posts to screen older emergency patients for dementia.
The Chesterfield Royal Hospital has appointed two dementia assessment nurses whose role is to assess every emergency admission over the age of 75 to see if they have signs of dementia.
The assessment is made using the FAIR system – Find, Assess, Investigate and Refer.
It is intended to help eliminate an incorrect referral, for example, the patient could be delirious or be suffering from an infection that can produce confusion and disorientation that can mirror characteristics of a dementia.
If the assessment triggers an undiagnosed case then a referral is made to the most appropriate service such as older peoples’ mental health team, GP or a geriatrician with an interest in dementia.
One of the nurses Melody Spencer said: “Research has shown that four in 10 patients have an undiagnosed dementia so our role ensures these patients don’t slip through the system and provides them timely access to a specialist assessment.”
Her colleague Marcia Young said: “We assess whether or not somebody has been more forgetful over the past 12 months, by asking to what extent it has significantly affected their daily life.
“It is normal for people to enter a room and for a split second not recall why they went in there however, with a dementia, people can lose the ability to function effectively, for example, they may go into the kitchen to make a cup of tea and not be able to remember how to carry out the task.”
She added: “We currently see all patients admitted within the previous 24 hours on a one to one basis and carry out the Find part of the FAIR assessment. This identifies anyone who is requiring further assessment and investigation.
“We then make the request for the patient’s team of doctors to carry this out. We continue to follow up the patient and ensure that this is completed before they are discharged thus ensuring an appropriate referral is made if required.”