Being admitted to an acute hospital environment can be a confusing and even frightening experience for a person with dementia and their family. The incidence of dementia in hospitalized patients aged over 70 has been estimated as being between 20-25%, increasing to 47% in those aged over 90, and this number is predicted to increase in the coming decades.
Compared to patients without cognitive decline these patients experience longer hospital stays, increased risk of falls, infection, delirium, functional decline, premature risk of nursing home placement and death.
In 2018/9 The Centre for Dementia Learning and Cabrini Hospital Brighton in Victoria entered into a partnership to conduct an eight month project to roll out the Birch Consultancy, a program developed by Dementia Australia to support healthcare organisations to develop more dementia friendly and enabling care environments. Working closely with a select group of dementia champions drawn from nursing, allied health, hospitality and environmental services, the team researched, planned, implemented and evaluated a range of evidence based ‘projects’ designed to improve the care and support people with dementia. The project was formally evaluated by La Trobe University College of Science, Health and Engineering.
This paper will describe the challenges and the successes of creating dementia friendly acute and sub-acute care environments.