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08 July 2011

“This is me” – city centre hospitals introduce booklet to improve dementia care


Work is continuing in the Bristol city centre hospitals to improve care for people who suffer from dementia and confusion with the introduction of the "this is me" booklet created by the Alzheimer's Society and supported by the Royal College of Nursing.

The booklet is being introduced across University Hospitals NHS Bristol NHS Foundation Trust (UH Bristol). It can be filled out and given to staff when a person with dementia goes into hospital to help hospital staff learn about the person's habits, hobbies, likes and dislikes. 

The roll out across UH Bristol will be aided by a £2,500 scholarship that nurse Carly Hall won in May. It will enable her to work with staff at every level and across all clinical areas of the Trust to embed the use of the booklet and help to provide a positive hospital experience for patients with dementia.

"The purpose of the booklet is to provide staff with a 'snapshot' of the person behind the dementia so that they can care for them appropriately. This gives staff an insight into the patient's interests and background. It can be something as simple as knowing that a patient is always called by their middle rather than their first name and this can really make a difference to their experience," said Helen Morgan, Head of Nursing for Specialised Services, who is leading work across the Trust to improve care for patients with dementia. 

Mr Alan Perrett, whose wife Patricia was admitted to the Bristol Royal Infirmary three times this year, is helping UH Bristol implement the "this is me" booklet and provide better care for patients with dementia.

"This work is very necessary. We encountered some problems when my wife, Patricia, who has dementia, was admitted to hospital three times this year. Even though she did not stay in hospital long, her stays there disrupted our routine and have had a longer term effect. As her carer, I needed information from the staff that my wife couldn't give me and the staff needed information about Patricia that she couldn't give them.

"My wife's dementia has come on over a period of time and you live and grow with it. She was not in hospital for her dementia, but we needed to recognise that if those needs were not met they may have got in the way of the healing process."

The introduction of the booklet across the Trust is one of many pieces of work that is being done to improve hospital care for patients with dementia in line with the National Dementia Strategy. A 2009 report by the Alzheimer's Society showed that people over 65 years of age with dementia are currently using up to one quarter of hospital beds at any one time, staying longer than a person without dementia with the same medical condition. This has a negative impact on patients' symptoms of dementia and their physical health.

"It is essential that we provide care for patients with dementia that takes full account of their condition and we train staff so that they have the skills to do this. To provide excellent care to confused patients we must identify them quickly and treat them appropriately so that nothing they experience while in hospital adds to their confusion," said Alison Moon, Chief Nurse and Chair of the South West Dementia Partnership, established to lead work, share best practice and set a common set of standards across the South West.

 A national audit of dementia care in hospitals has been commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP) and conducted by the Royal College of Psychiatrists. The final report is due to be published later this year. UH Bristol is working with North Bristol NHS Trust to ensure that standards are implemented in all Bristol's hospitals and that patients with dementia receive high quality care across the city.

"We know that we have a lot of work to do although there are some areas of good practice across our hospitals. We have drawn up a work programme that looks at different ways of improving care for patients with dementia, from practical solutions such as ensuring that the new Patient Administration System (PAS) identifies patients with dementia, limiting ward moves, ensuring that ward areas have clocks which help patients to orient themselves, to providing training and development for staff," said Helen Morgan.