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Findings from NI audit of dementia care in acute hospitals are welcomed

2015-06-26
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Health and social care professionals welcome findings from Northern Ireland Audit of Dementia Care in Acute Hospitals.

The Health Minister, Simon Hamilton, today welcomed the findings of an audit report which examines the quality of dementia care in hospitals from the patient’s admission to discharge.

Minister Hamilton said: “Dementia has a huge impact on families and on society as a whole and there are currently 20,000 people living with dementia in Northern Ireland. The recommendations from this audit highlight the importance of understanding the care needs of patients with dementia when they are admitted to an acute hospital ward.

“This information will help inform the ongoing implementation of the regional dementia strategy, in particular the actions relating to hospital care. Also, it will contribute further to the joint Atlantic Philanthropies/Delivering Social Change Dementia initiative, launched in September 2014 with investment of £6.25million, in improving the quality of care and support for people living with dementia.”
The Northern Ireland Dementia Care Audit was funded by Atlantic Philanthropies. The research was undertaken to assist professionals develop a baseline quality of care from patients’ admissions through to discharge.

Presenting the findings Dr Suzanne Timmons, Consultant Geriatrician and Lead Clinician on the audit, reported:
“Thanks to funding from Atlantic Philanthropies, we have had a unique opportunity to examine dementia care in acute hospitals across the island of Ireland, last year in the Republic of Ireland (INAD) and this year in Northern Ireland. The combined audits identify universal challenges to dementia care in busy acute hospitals, and opportunities to improve care. Good practice initiatives in acute hospitals in Northern Ireland, reflective of the “Improving Dementia Services” Regional Strategy, are clearly demonstrated, but there are some areas that require improvement, such as cognitive and delirium assessments”.

All 12 hospitals in Northern Ireland were audited based on similar studies carried out in England, Wales and the Republic of Ireland. Data collated in the report considered a wide range of elements of dementia care including staffing levels, staff training, nutrition, ward environments, discharge and palliative care.

Eleanor Ross, Nurse Consultant with the Public Health Agency, said: “Hospitals are experiencing an increase in the number of admissions of people with dementia. Approximately 21-29% of adults aged over 70 years admitted to hospitals have dementia. Admission to hospital is a stressful and distressing experience for these patients and the information identified in the audit report provides us with a clear set of recommendations which will enable us to bring significant improvements in the acute hospital setting.

“It is clear from the report that Northern Ireland compares positively with the findings
from the Republic of Ireland, England and Wales however gaps have been identified.
It is important therefore that we address the need to raise knowledge and develop
the support mechanisms which improve the experience of people with dementia
when they are in hospital.”

Key considerations of the audit were the identification of the structures and resources
available to meet the needs of patient with dementia, and, assessment of levels of
care provided to patients with dementia.

Seamus McErlean, Commissioning Lead for Older People and Adult Services at the
Health and Social Care Board, said: “This audit brings additional focus to the work
currently being undertaken across a range of professional groups and agencies to
implement the regional dementia strategy. The report’s findings reflect favourably on
hospital services here when compared with elsewhere however there is much to be
done. By improving understanding of dementia and promoting awareness amongst
staff across a range of professions working in hospital services we can ensure that
people with dementia receive improved levels of care, treatment and support.”

The report of the Northern Ireland Audit of Dementia Care 2015 is available online at
http://www.ucc.ie/en/media/research/irishnationalauditofdementia/ReportoftheNorther
nIrelandAuditofDementiaCareinAcuteHospitals.pdf

Anyone with concerns about Alzheimer’s disease or about any other form of
dementia can contact the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Helpline 0300 222 1122
which provides information, support, guidance and signposting to other appropriate
organisations.

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