Shining a Light on Bolton NHS Foundation Trust: The Importance of Early Detection in Dementia Care
Dementia is a debilitating condition that affects millions of people worldwide. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, there are about 900,000 people with dementia in the UK, and almost half of the population knows someone struggling with a form of dementia.
As the population ages, the prevalence of dementia is expected to increase significantly, with estimates suggesting that by 2040, there will be nearly 1.5M people living with dementia in the UK. Early detection and management are crucial to ensure that patients receive the best possible care and support.
In support of Dementia Action Week (15–21 May), we want to highlight Bolton NHS Foundation Trust (Bolton FT), one organisation that has recognised the importance of early detection and management of dementia and is taking steps to improve the care of patients with this condition using the Sunrise™ EPR. Whenever a patient with dementia is admitted, recording of this diagnosis identifies these individuals through an icon shown on the patient record in the EPR, notifying all clinicians as well as the Admiral Nurse on admission who can then provide the appropriate support during their hospital stay.
The role of the Admiral Nurse
Admiral Nurses play a critical role by supporting both patients and their families. They offer advice on managing the patient’s symptoms, coping strategies for family members, and information on available resources and support services. By engaging with families early, Admiral Nurses can provide the necessary support to help them manage their loved one’s care. Hospital admissions are particularly difficult for people with dementia and unfamiliar surroundings can trigger distress, confusion and delirium. This can contribute to a decline in functioning and greatly reduces their chances of returning home to live independently.
David Neilson, Admiral Nurse, Bolton NHS Foundation Trust, had the following to say: “With the introduction of the electronic referral system across our inpatient wards and emergency department, our aim is for a more rapid response, assessment and support of people living with dementia and their families at the Royal Bolton Hospital. With early detection support and signposting to families and care givers this aims to improve the patient journey with more support form admission to discharge. The Admiral Nursing service has always strived to achieve the best standards for our service users and through one-on-one contact, educating and supporting our workforce to give them the skills to achieve excellence in the field of dementia provision.”
Early recognition of patients with dementia and differentiation from other causes of confusion, such as delirium, facilitates appropriate treatment and support, which can improve their quality of life and delay the progression of symptoms. Admiral Nurses can ensure that these patients receive the appropriate care and support from the outset.
The dementia referral system at Bolton FT not only supports patients with dementia but also their families who invariably have many questions and benefit from the experience and guidance of Admiral Nurses to help families manage their loved one’s care. This can help to reduce the burden on families and improve the overall patient and family experience.
Length of stay
Early recognition of dementia whilst patients are admitted can help to reduce the risk of readmission and reduce length of stay. Patients with dementia are more likely to be admitted to hospital than those without the condition, and they are also more likely to experience complications during their stay and minimise complications when they return home. This can help to reduce the pressure on hospitals and improve patient outcomes.
Patients with dementia may struggle with communication and may become agitated or confused in unfamiliar surroundings.
The introduction of the dementia referral system at Bolton FT has been a significant step forward in improving the care of patients with dementia and is an excellent example of how healthcare organisations can build in features to their EPR and take steps to improve the care of dementia patients. By consistently identifying patients with dementia on admission, Admiral Nurses can provide appropriate support and ensure that patients receive the best possible care during their hospital stay with a reduced length of stay and improved outcomes.
For our part, Altera Digital Health stands by Bolton FT and is proud to help its clinicians, its patients, and its patients’ families navigate the health IT needed to continue bringing next-level healthcare within reach. If you’d like to learn how else Bolton are using Sunrise EPR to save clinical time and improve patient experience, please click here.