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RCN encourages nurses to become 'delirium champions' to help raise awareness

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A new drive to help nurses spot signs of delirium has been launched today by the Royal College of Nursing.

To raise awareness of the condition, the RCN will recruit nursing staff to become “delirium champions,” who will be trained to help others detect symptoms and escalate problems efficiently.

“More and more nurses are coming forward to say there just isn’t enough awareness of delirium among healthcare staff”

Dawne Garrett

The initiative, led by RCN’s older people’s forum, will see staff provided with bespoke materials and a short animated film to help them educate others.

Delirium – common and serious condition can affect anyone, but especially older people or those with dementia – can cause sudden experiences of confusion, feeling disorientated, and can also leave patients struggling to pay attention or make decisions, noted the RCN.

A lack of awareness of the condition has been reported among the nursing workforce, where there is a general feeling among nurses that staff are not trained enough in spotting the signs, an RCN spokeswoman told Nursing Times.

A recent report by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the National Audit of Dementia, noted hospitals in particular should increase checks for delirium, after it found many patients were not being screened.

It recommended that staff should receive training in delirium and its relationship to dementia, manifestations of pain, and behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia. 

It is hoped the RCN’s recruitment of delirium champions will improve early detection and ensure nurses are able to prevent patients from falling, becoming more unwell or even dying.

“All our delirium champions will be equipped with education and development resources to help train as many staff as possible”

Dawne Garrett

“Delirium is a very common condition, particularly among older patients and those with dementia. Yet more and more nurses are coming forward to say there just isn’t enough awareness of delirium among healthcare staff,” said Dawne Garrett, the RCN’s professional lead for older people and dementia.

“All our delirium champions will be equipped with education and development resources to help train as many staff as possible about delirium symptoms,” she said.

“We hope to impact real change so that patients can get the care they need as soon as possible, avoiding any further distress or complications,” added Ms Garrett.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Not before time!

    Frequently an avoidable condition where person centred care is given yet one which is distressing to the patient and can inconvenience nursing and caring staff. Ensuring it is avoided where possible is kind and cost effective. With luck senior managers in the NHS may realise this. Are they regulated and checked yet? Do they know how to give cost effective, person centred care?

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