Blog: You Can Prevent Delirium - World Delirium Day 2017

Wednesday 15 March 2017

World Delirium Day

At the UK Dementia Congress last November, Bradford Teaching Hospitals’ Delirium Specialist, Danielle Woods closed a session about acute hospital care by saying 'I think delirium needs a raised profile. More people need to understand it. It is preventable.'

Since then, members of the Dementia Action Alliance's Hospitals Taskforce have worked together, sharing tips and ideas about how to raise awareness, including a recent 'Dementia vs Delirium' debate organised by Vicky Leah and Lydia Russell at UCLH. This saw practitioners come together and discuss the importance of recognising both dementia and delirium, and providing appropriate care within acute settings. 

Today, on World Delirium Day, we're shining a spotlight on delirium, and explaining how you can make a difference. 

What is delirium?

Delirium is a very rapid decline in brain function. It involves a mix of reduced ability to concentrate, sleepiness, agitation, hallucinations or altered beliefs. Delirium develops over hours or days. 

Who gets delirium?

Anyone. Older age and dementia greatly increase the chance of becoming delirious, and 1 in 4 older hospital patients will get delirium. 

Is delirium the same as dementia?

Delirium is different from dementia. Delirium comes on quickly and usually resolves over days. Dementia develops slowly and cannot be reversed.

Why is it important to recognise the difference between dementia and delirium?

By recognising and supporting wellbeing in acute settings, we can prevent delirium from occurring. If a delirium does occur, we can treat that person accordingly, aiding their recovery and supporting their cognitive function. This can be done through simple personalised care, and finding out more about what makes that person content. 

Actions to take #WDD2017

  • Commit to using the term 'delirium'
  • Screen your patients for delirium
  • Listen to patient and family stories about the experience of delirium
  • Engage your leadership in a discussion of Delirium
  • Educate health professionals about delirium 

Visit World Delirium Day HQ for more information.

Written by Louise Thomas, Communications Officer, Dementia Action Alliance.