Leading scientists and clinicians from across the UK have conducted an analysis of global research into the care of hospital patients with dementia and delirium, and are recommending a radical review of patient care.

Published in a major scientific journal, this review highlights the need for policy changes, a review of current practices when treating hospital patients with dementia and delirium, and increased research into these conditions.  

Dr Thomas Jackson, University of Birmingham, is one of the researchers involved with the analysis: 

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“As a nation we are living longer so dementia diagnoses are increasing, placing a strain on family, carers, and the NHS, along with serious concerns for newly diagnosed patients as to their future quality of life. Many people with dementia are admitted to hospital and a better understanding of dementia and delirium in hospitals, together with improved care management, could positively affect patient outcomes.  Improved care could lead to reduced trauma for patients, less anxiety or stress for relatives and carers, and NHS financial savings”.

Dementia is a slow and progressive deterioration of memory function over months or years and affects one in four hospital patients.  Delirium is a sudden change of a patient’s mental functioning and behaviour; they can be fine one minute yet the next minute they can be confused, agitated, drowsy, and unable to perform normal daily tasks such as eating or dressing.  Delirium has various causes, commonly infection, stroke, or a surgical operation.  If treated quickly and correctly it is only temporary in most people. Dementia patients are highly susceptible to delirium but it can be hard to identify as the symptoms can be confused.

The University of Birmingham has a specialist Institute of Inflammation & Ageing, where some of the highlighted research was carried out, which conducts research and trials into healthy ageing and prevention of diseases linked with advancing years.  It is hoped that this analysis of current practices is a major stepping stone to improved care management.