"Care of Patients with Dementia"
About: Royal Alexandra Hospital / Trauma & orthopaedics Royal Alexandra Hospital Trauma & orthopaedics PA2 9PN
Posted by NOD83 (as ),
I would like to add my support to the campaign to give the carers of those living with dementia the right to stay with them in hospital. I would also like to raise the point that the education of medical staff must include a good grounding into caring for patients with dementia.
My mum was admitted to the Royal Alexandria Hospital, Paisley, in early September 2014 after falling and having a suspected fracture. She had quite severe dementia at this point. I was in the US when it happened, but was reassured by the discussions my family had with the medical staff that she was physically well enough to undergo surgery.
She remained in the hospital for 5-6 days, so when I got back I called to enquire when it would be possible to see her and how she had been doing. At this point, I felt alarm bells go off. The nurse I spoke to hadn't been on duty for some of Mum's period as a patient, so couldn't be expected to know lots. However, I got the impression that Mum wasn't being consulted about anything, because of her dementia condition. A person with dementia has lost their memory, not their mind. I feel that it is very important for medical staff to understand that point. I appreciate that it is difficult to implement in practice, when someone with dementia may not appear to be making much sense, but those who know them can decipher their words and statements and in Mum's case, she could quite often make a point or an observation, or say something which let you understand her feelings.
For that reason, and based on my experience with Mum, I feel very strongly that the reassurance of a familiar person, asking questions and listening/interpreting to the answers, makes such a difference to a person who has dementia when they are admitted to hospital and are suddenly faced with strange surroundings and people. A family member should be able to stay with them, exactly as John's Campaign advocates.
I would further add my own view that education about caring for and communicating with such patients now has to be a fundamental part of the educational curriculum, for nurses, doctors, paramedics and anyone else who has direct contact with patients.