Advice line: improvements in dementia care

A National Dementia Audit shows improvements in dementia care, Amanda Buttery says there is room for improvement.

The 2016-17 National Audit of Dementia, which measures the performance of general hospitals, had a great response rate with 98 per cent of eligible hospitals taking part in England and Wales. Case notes from 10,047 patients were reviewed, and 14,416 staff and 4,664 carers completed surveys.
Hospitals have made many positive changes in becoming more dementia-friendly, the audit shows. Overall, nearly 70 per cent of carers rated care as ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’.  
More hospitals are providing staff with dementia awareness training and 96 per cent have a training framework for dementia care, up from just 23 per cent in the first round of audit in 2011. Results for mobility assessments were similar to previous years and information on functional assessments by physios and occupational therapists were included. 
However, the audit also found that information on the care and communication needs of people with dementia could could not always be accessed by staff. More than half of carers thought staff could be better informed.  
Recommendations specific to therapy leads include enhancing activity programmes to provide opportunities for social interaction for people with dementia and ensuring that staff training records on dementia are centralised. 
Recommendations to hospitals included ensuring access to finger foods and snacks 24 hours a day. Also, training staff in the Mental Capacity Act, including consent, and appropriate use of best interest decision-making. Use of lasting power of attorney and advance decision making was highlighted, with staff able to talk with family members and carers on these topics. Hospitals should have robust mechanisms for assessing delirium.
If you want to find out how your local hospital did, see the interactive map and full report on the Royal College of Psychiatrists.  
Follow the conversation on Twitter #dementiaaudit. Look out for the Quality Improvement workshops taking place in England and Wales in September and October.
  • Dr Amanda Buttery is a Health Innovation Network fellow, honorary clinical lecturer at King’s College London and member of National Dementia Audit’s steering committee.
Dr Amanda Buttery

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