Delirium Unit

The Northern Trust has introduced a Delirium Unit, an initiative which is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK.

Delirium is caused by an acute disturbance of brain function, presenting with sudden confusion and changes in a person’s behaviour and alertness. It is very common and frequently occurs in patients in hospital with other problems. It is most common in people over 65 and those with pre-existing memory problems such as dementia. It is also more common in patients who have been seriously medically unwell and required a period of time in intensive care.

It is estimated to occur in 10-20% of medical patients and a further 10-30% develop delirium as an inpatient.

Those patients presenting with a delirium tend to become distressed when they are admitted to the unfamiliar and busy hospital environment. Their distress and anxiety is often counter-productive to their recovery which means their length of stay is often increased. In many cases, while patients were medically ready for discharge, they were too behaviourally confused to allow discharge to take place.

Mental health staff, working in partnership with community and acute staff, worked to identify and establish a six bedded unit specifically for patients with delirium. The Delirium Unit provides a non-clinical environment for patients along with therapeutic work and the input of a multidisciplinary team (psychiatric nurse, social worker, clinical psychologist and consultant psychiatrist).

Patients have a person centred care plan put in place and their family is involved in all discussions.

Despite being only introduced in the Autumn of 2016, the unit has been very successful to date and the Trust hope to further develop it over the coming months.

Page last updated:04 May 2017