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Dementia and delirium

Our services A-Z

What is dementia and delirium?

Dementia is a syndrome with a progressive decline in memory, reasoning, communication skills and the ability to carry out daily activities.

Its progression varies from person to person and each person will experience dementia in a unique way.

The most well-known types of dementia include Alzheimer’s disease, Vascular dementia, Lewy Body dementia and Fronto-temporal dementia.

A visit to hospital and illness may cause agitation, anxiety and restlessness in people living with dementia.

Delirium is a sudden change in mental state which may include confusion, difficulties with understanding and memory loss.

Common causes of delirium are pain, infection, surgery, constipation, dehydration, medication and a new environment.

Please notify a staff member if you notice a change in your relative’s behaviour.

If delirium is suspected, tests will be conducted to look for potential causes; treating the underlying cause treats the delirium.

The recovery time is different for each person, some people living with dementia may take a little longer to get better.

How will CUH staff help people living with dementia/delirium in our hospital?

We are proud to have a Dementia Care Team working within our hospital.

This team combines the knowledge and skills of our Dementia Specialist Nurse, Catherine Pride, our Admiral Nurse Maria da Costa and our Alzheimer’s Society Hospital Advisor, Emily Monk.

We aim to improve the journey of people living with dementia who require our hospital services.

We believe that people living with dementia deserve person –centred care that recognises and respects their individual needs. We wish to provide a standard of care that ensures the person is at the centre of our delivery of care.

We identify people living with dementia when they are admitted to our hospital that helps us to ensure that staff are aware of their diagnosis and individualised needs.

CUH have over 150 specially trained Dementia and Delirium Champions who work across both clinical and non-clinical areas. These specialised Champions support the work of the Dementia Care Team and promote awareness to other staff in the areas where they work.

We continuously educate our staff with appropriate training and workforce development in Dementia and delirium care. This enables us to provide person-centred care with respect for the person as an individual and recognising their life story.

CUH uses cognitive identifiers that serve to highlight the particular needs of those living with dementia/delirium.

These include the following:

  • Blue wristband
  • Forget-me-not symbol
  • "What’s Important to Me?" document

We strive to provide an environment that is dementia friendly that includes clear signage, minimising the number of moves around the hospital, supporting the activities that promote orientation and stimulation.

What we provide at CUH

We have a team of experts trained to care for people living with dementia/delirium.

This includes our specialist older person consultants, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, discharge planning experts, social workers, pharmacy staff, speech and language specialists, volunteers, dieticians, chaplaincy, old age liaison psychiatry team, the memory clinic experts, nursing staff, palliative care team, falls prevention team and health care support workers who collaborate closely with a multidisciplinary team approach.

We value the role of carers and aim to involve family, carers, and friends of those living with dementia and wish to create an environment where carers feel listened to and included in their loved-one’s care.

The Dementia Care Team wish to actively promote John’s Campaign, reinforcing the message that carers have a right, not a duty, to be with the person they care for.

John’s Campaign recognises that a person living with dementia has the right to be supported by their loved one at whatever time is right for them.

The Trust upholds this mission through offering unrestricted visiting hours for carers of people living with dementia/delirium. We offer a carers passport that ensures access to free visiting and an understanding from staff to allow this.

How you can help

We know that the care and support of people living with dementia is often delivered by family members and friends. We would therefore value your assistance in developing a care plan that aims at improving the experience of being in hospital for your relative or friend. To help us we use a document called “What’s Important to Me?”

Information that helps includes the following:

  • Some idea of whom they are as a person, their life story, their family members, their past working and social life. We like to acknowledge important people in their lives, be it family members or pets.
  • What are their hobbies/activities that are part of their usual daily routine?
  • Are there situations that cause upset that we should be aware of?
  • Are there tips we should be aware of if your loved one/friend becomes agitated, starts to wander, and becomes anxious, any triggers we should be aware of?

Additionally, we are keen to know eating habits, food likes and dislikes, in order to ensure they receive an adequate dietary intake.

We are aware that hospitals can be frightening environments for the person with dementia or delirium. With your information we can offer support and seek activities tailored to their interests such as music and reminiscence.

Resources and support

Community Support

References/sources of evidence