Improving the care of people living with dementia admitted to hospitals

This review seeks to identify primary research and use its findings to develop explanations of what characteristics of dementia-friendly initiatives in hospitals make them work, in what circumstances, and why | BMJ 

Abstract

Objectives To identify features of programmes and approaches to make healthcare delivery in secondary healthcare settings more dementia-friendly, providing a context-relevant understanding of how interventions achieve outcomes for people living with dementia.

Design A realist review conducted in three phases: (1) stakeholder interviews and scoping of the literature to develop an initial programme theory for providing effective dementia care; (2) structured retrieval and extraction of evidence; and (3) analysis and synthesis to build and refine the programme theory.

Data sources PubMed, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Cochrane Library, NHS Evidence, Scopus and grey literature.

Eligibility criteria Studies reporting interventions and approaches to make hospital environments more dementia-friendly. Studies not reporting patient outcomes or contributing to the programme theory were excluded.

Results Phase 1 combined findings from 15 stakeholder interviews and 22 publications to develop candidate programme theories. Phases 2 and 3 identified and synthesised evidence from 28 publications. Prominent context–mechanism–outcome configurations were identified to explain what supported dementia-friendly healthcare in acute settings. Staff capacity to understand the behaviours of people living with dementia as communication of an unmet need, combined with a recognition and valuing of their role in their care, prompted changes to care practices. Endorsement from senior management gave staff confidence and permission to adapt working practices to provide good dementia care. Key contextual factors were the availability of staff and an alignment of ward priorities to value person-centred care approaches. A preoccupation with risk generated responses that werelikely to restrict patient choice and increase their distress.

Conclusions This review suggests that strategies such as dementia awareness training alone will not improve dementia care or outcomes for patients with dementia. Instead, how staff are supported to implement learning and resources by senior team members with dementia expertise is a key component for improving care practices and patient outcomes.

Full reference: Handley M, Bunn F, Goodman C. | Dementia-friendly interventions to improve the care of people living with dementia admitted to hospitals: a realist review | BMJ Open 2017; 7:e015257

See also: Dementia care in hospital: training, leadership and culture change needed | The Mental Elf

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