Hospitals must improve links with dementia carers, study finds

Royal College of Psychiatrists audit finds information important to future care is not routinely summarised at the point of discharge

Photo: Action Press/Rex Features
Photo: Action Press/Rex Features

Hospitals are failing to link up sufficiently with the carers of patients suffering from dementia, an audit carried out by the Royal College of Psychiatrists has found.

Despite improvements over the last two years, a third of hospitals still do not have guidance in place on the involvement of and information sharing with the person’s carer, according to the latest National Audit of Dementia.

The audit, the first of which was carried out in 2011, found case notes often do not include information that could aid communication with carers, while information important to future care is not routinely summarised at the point of discharge.

In a quarter of case notes, there was no record that notice of discharge from hospital had been given to carers or family. Notes often do not include information that could help staff communicate better with the patient, and information relevant to future care is not routinely summarised at the point of discharge.

The audit, which uses data collected from 210 hospitals across England and Wales, also raised a series of concerns about the discharge process. It said information important to future care of dementia sufferers is not being provided at the point of discharge. Less than half of the patients who had had symptoms of delirium, or of behavioural or psychological symptoms of dementia during admission, had this recorded in their discharge summary.

“Overall, the findings show the collection of personal information still needs to be improved, as well as information sharing and communication between staff, carers and patients,” said the report.

“Collecting direct feedback from carers and people with dementia would give us a better picture of how they are being involved in care and treatment decisions, and whether they feel satisfied with their level of involvement.”

The report said that ward managers should ensure that carers’ views, knowledge and expertise should be sought and used to inform care planning and provision. Carers should be regularly updated and involved in discussions on care, treatment and discharge planning and receive adequate notice of discharge.

The audit found a considerable proportion of patients and carers were not given a copy of the discharge plan or summary, or information about support on discharge. Less than a third of carers and family received more than two days notice of discharge, and the audit found that hospitals do not consistently record information about notice of discharge being given to family.

Overall, the report said, results show that hospitals are working to improve the quality of care that people with dementia receive.

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