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Dementia: Early diagnosis is vital in an ageing population

16 May 2014

Dementia Awareness Week takes place between 18 and 24 May. West Middlesex University Hospital will be raising awareness about the condition which affects around 800,000 people in the UK.

Dementia Awareness Week takes place between 18 and 24 May. West Middlesex University Hospital will be raising awareness about the condition which affects around 800,000 people in the UK.

On Monday 19 and Friday 23 May the hospital’s Care of the Elderly and Adult Liaison Psychiatry teams will be in the main atrium between 10.00am and 3.00pm to raise awareness and provide advice to patients, visitors and staff about dementia. They will also be joined by local voluntary services such as the Alzheimer’s society and Integrated Neurological Services (INS).

Information will also be available about extra support that is provided by the hospital and local community, such as the Dementia Carer’s Support Group.

Dementia is a syndrome (a group of related symptoms) associated with an ongoing decline of the brain and its abilities. This includes problems with:

  • memory loss
  • thinking speed
  • mental agility
  • language
  • understanding
  • judgement

Dementia usually occurs in people over the age of 65, and with aging population, we are likely to see a rise in the number of people with dementia. Early diagnosis can help people with dementia get the right treatment to slow it down and maintain mental function, as well as help relatives to prepare and plan for the future.

Consultant in care of the elderly and stroke medicine, Dr Ravneeta Singhsaid:
 “A large proportion of people with dementia go undiagnosed because people are unaware of the condition and what can be done to manage it. At any given time around half of all inpatients at the hospital will be older people, aged 75 and above, and we would typically expect half of these to have dementia/delirium or both.

“When people with dementia are admitted to hospital it can be a very complex and confusing time which is why we have made staff education and awareness a key priority to improve the experience of those with dementia, whilst they are in hospital.”

Since October 2012 the Trust has provided all clinical and administrative staff with training to be able to recognise and manage patients who have dementia.

All patients over 75 years old are screened for dementia and delirium (a condition of acute confusion which those with dementia are highly susceptible) when they are admitted to hospital. This helps to devise an appropriate care plan during their stay and after discharge from the hospital.

Each ward has a Dementia Champion, who is responsible for ensuring that appropriate steps are taken to improve the care of patients with dementia – paying particular attention to maintaining patient dignity, safeguarding, ward environment and communicating with the relatives.

The Trust also has an on-site liaison service to help and support staff to look after patients with behavioral and psychological problems with dementia.

The hospital’s Crane Ward was refurbished in 2013 to be a dementia-friendly ward, thanks to a £99,000 grant from the Department of Health and £10,000 from Bouygues Energies & Services.  Since its reopening in December last year, the changes have already shown noticeable improvements for patients’ wellbeing.