Dementia patients in hospital

How do people manage when admitted to hospital and have a diagnosis of Dementia? In my experience this can be a challenging and worrying time for families for so many reasons, least of all the distress it can cause for someone who is confused and disorientated.

I'd be interested to hear of people's experiences and sharing any tips to help others in this situation

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10 Replies

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  • Hi, I have Vascular Dementia, from what I have seen was pretty good and sometimes their family will go in and maybe stay a few hours helping with feeding etc, then depending on how severe the patients Dementia is. I suppose it can depend on the hospital too. Good luck and I hope this helps you.

    Philip

  • The hospital in Eastbourne and our local orthopaedic hospital both use a very good scheme. When someone is admitted with dementia (however bad), a small butterfly symbol is put on every bit of their paperwork. This tells anyone who deals with them that they have special requirements. It is an excellent idea and I asked our main hospital if they would do the same but they have not done so. I had to go for a scan and to the fracture clinic. On arrival (the area took some finding) I had to book in then sit for a while before being called in to see the consultant. He then sent me for a scan which was in a different part of the hospital and then I had to go back to the original area, book in again and again wait for the consultant.

    I pointed out to the staff that someone with dementia would be completely unable to do these things, they would be lost before they even began but no-one seemed to care. They said the person could ask for help but how many dementia sufferers would do this? They would just wander around getting more and more lost and losing their slot to see the consultant.

    I wish all hospitals would adopt this simple butterfly symbol, it would save so much worry. Sometimes very simple things could improve life immensely for those with memory problems.

  • What a great idea, some NHS trusts have a patient participation service, you could try notifying yours about this.

    I like the idea of following a coloured line or footprints, red for xray, blue for blood tests etc. that some more enlightened hospitals use too.

    It is confusing even when you don't have dementia so anything simple that helps would be a bonus for everyone.

  • Two great ideas that all hospitals should follow.

  • I cannot speak for all, but my hospital has specialist dementia nurses on the wards. Given dementia patients are mostly in the geriatric area anyway. I agree bluebell99 . We have lines to follow, but when you cannot remember why you're going you can forget which one you're following. It's bad enough going from casualty to x-ray :O

    Also ask what provisions they make for dementia sufferers. I also agree with exhaustedwife , some hospitals are still task led, not patient centred.

  • One of the fears for families is leaving the person at the hospital. Especially if left in AMU. The pace on the ward is ever changing, noisy and shift changes never seem to see same staff

    A recent experience has shown poor level of communication when updating a family on the current situation and person is unable to remember to inform anyone.

    It appears to be a constant battle to get information and family are anxious to leave the person alone.

  • I worry about my father as he has dementia as well as other health problems. I also don't live nearby so can't go in to help very easily. He is in a care home and I did get him a medi-bracelet which lets people know two of his conditions including dementia. However I do worry about him being alone in hospital.

    Karen

  • Have you been able to talk to the home about your fear if he goes to hospital? It is worth asking if they can send a staff member if possible.

    Great idea about bracelet too

  • I have done and I think that someone went with him once but they can't always spare the carers. He has never had a social worker as he is self funding. There is only me so it's difficult. So far I have rung regularly and he's not too bad but it is a worry. One nurse said she wouldn't have known that he had dementia if she hadn't seen the bracelet as it's mainly affecting his short term memory so far.

    Karen

  • It is a worry Karen I'm sure. When calling the hospital see if they have allocated a key nurse.

    Give as much detail as you can about your father that will help reassure him when they are with him. Little pieces of information that can start a familiar conversation may help

    The home should also have sent a 'This is me' document. Another scheme started some time ago to support people with dementia going into hospital or care environments. The document can be picked up and taken with someone at any time. It helps the nursing staff get to know the person, their likes and dislikes.

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