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Trusts failing to provide nurses with tools to treat dementia

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Less than 20 per cent of hospital trusts have a system in place to ensure all ward staff know which patients have dementia, a major clinical audit has found.

The National Audit of Dementia Interim Report says only 19 per cent of trusts had such a system in place to ensure all members of staff coming into contact with the patient would know their dementia status.

The report, which covered nearly 8,000 patients with dementia in 206 hospitals in England and Wales, also found 95 per cent of trusts did not provide mandatory training for dementia awareness for all staff, and 77 per cent of trusts did not have a training strategy that identified key skills for working with people with dementia.

The report also found dementia patients did not have their nutrition levels assessed in 30 per cent of cases, although it was policy to do so in 96 per cent of the hospitals surveyed.

The audit was carried out by the Royal College of Psychiatrists for the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership, and looked at patients discharged from hospital between 1 September 2009 and 28 February 2010.

Professor Peter Crome, audit steering committee chair and consultant geriatrician at University Hospital of North Staffordshire Trust, said: “There is still reluctance by clinicians and managers to accept that the care of this most vulnerable group of patients is a core function of an acute hospital. This must change.

“Assessing and treating dementia patients properly and supporting their carers will not only improve the patients’ health and quality of life, but will also result in shortened hospital stays, and reduce both NHS and social care costs.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • See what you get when you put the care of vulnerable people with dementia into the hands of the Acute General service!!

    For years the Government has expected general nurses to provide the bulk of the care for people with dementia either in Acute Hospitals or Nursing Homes.

    Whilst l am not saying that they haven't provided physical care for these people, they have not had either the experience, and they certainly do not have the time in Hospitals to meet the needs adequately.

    As you might have guessed, l am one of the old school psychiatric nurses who spent at least 9 months of my training nursing people with dementia.

    Even todays RMN's do not get the same level of experience and training that we did in this specialist field.

    The governement really don't want to know about care for those suffering from dementia, because it means they will have to invest a lot of money to provide a reasonable standard.

    It is a joke for them to ralk about the "dementia timebomb". The profession and Politicians have known about this "timebomb" for the last 30-40 years. What isn't a joke, is that they have failed to take the appropriate action to meet the needs of those who suffer from what is a devastating condition, which inflicts such misery on the sufferer and their relatives.

    Unlike cancer where the pain it causes can be controlled, those with dementia have very little assistance with their suffering.

    I suspect that there is also a significant imbalance in the amount of taxpayers and charitable money which is spent on research between the two diseases.

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