Dementia Friendly Hospitals Edited 3

Creating Dementia Friendly Hospitals

2012 was a landmark year for people with dementia, their families and carers. It was the year that positively changed the way in which people with dementia experienced care, changed the outcomes of care and changed the way in which your community views caring for people with dementia.

In October 2012 the Dementia Action Alliance, in partnership with the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement, launched a Call to Action for the improvement of care for people with dementia in Acute Hospitals.

The goal of this work was that by March 2013 every hospital in England would have committed to becoming a dementia friendly hospital, working in partnership with their local Dementia Action Alliance. 164 acute and non-acute trusts made that commitment, with 88 submitting action plans and joining the Dementia Action Alliance. The Dementia Friendly Hospital Charter is the second phase of the Right Care initiative, now called Dementia Friendly Hospitals. Hospitals are being encouraged to sign up to the Charter.

Why is this work important? Will it benefit people with dementia, their families and carers who use acute hospital services?

We know that dementia is a significant challenge and a key priority for the NHS with an estimated 25% of acute beds occupied by people with dementia. We know that when people with dementia come into acute care their length of stay is longer than people without dementia. We know they are vulnerable to potentially avoidable complications like dehydration and falls, and we know that they are often subject to delays in leaving hospital and returning safely home.

We have been listening to people with dementia, their families and carers about what good care looks like, and about the transformation that can take place when we have the shared purpose to enable people with dementia to experience high quality care in acute hospitals and when we support them, their families, carers and staff to have the confidence to champion best practice and create a culture of excellence.

Clinical, Academic and Managerial colleagues have all told us that we should focus on improving five key areas:

  • The environment in which care is given
  • The knowledge, skills and attitudes of the workforce
  • The ability to identify and assess cognitive impairment
  • The ability to support people with dementia to be discharged back home
  • The use of a person centered care plan which involves families and carers.

By making improvements in these areas we are able to reduce readmission rates, prevent over 6000 falls across the country, reducing the mortality rate of people with dementia in acute care, as well as improving the sense of pride and well being in staff who care for people with dementia in acute hospitals.

For more information, please contact the Dementia Action Alliance on dementiaactionalliance@alzheimers.org.uk.