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Mental Health

Dementia sufferers 'inadequately assessed' in Irish hospitals

At any one time, one in four people in Irish hospitals suffer from dementia, with their care costing the state €21 million a year.

THE FIRST NATIONAL audit into the quality of dementia care in Ireland is to be published today.

The report, conducted last year through an audit of 35 acute hospitals across the country, with researchers interviewing senior hospital managers and geriatricians; directly observing the environment/ interviewing the clinical nurse managers of 77 wards, and reviewing 660 healthcare records of people with dementia who had been admitted to the hospitals.

The audit showed differences in the access to dementia-relevant services between hospitals, with poor access to many diagnostic and support services.

The audit also found there was “inadequate assessment of cognition, delirium, mood, and behavioural and psychological symptoms in people with dementia during their admission”.

It found that the average stay for a person admitted to hospital with dementia who was discharged to a nursing home was 59 days, compared to 22 days for people who were sent home.

It also said that only 69 per cent of hospital wards had minimum staffing levels, that none used colour schemes to help those with dementia find their way around and that Ireland has no set standard for dementia care.

Other findings included a lack of clocks or toilet signs and a lack of explanation of schedules and procedures on wards.

The audit was carried out by The Centre for Gerontology and Rehabilitation, UCC, The Centre for Ageing, Neuroscience and the Humanities, Trinity Centre for Health Sciences, Tallaght Hospital Dublin and the HSE Quality and Patient Safety Directorate.

It recommends a standardised treatment period, procedures to prevent and treat delirium and better training for staff.

Column: ‘The plans we made together are gone now, Alzheimer’s is a most horrifying illness’

Read: Dementia set to triple by 2050 as disease labelled “global epidemic”

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