Being admitted to hospital can be a difficult time for older people because of the change in environment, different faces and ongoing medical interventions, and on occasions this can increase a person’s level of confusion.
People who are over 65 years of age, who have previous memory problems, who have an acute illness or infection, or have a broken bone are more prone to developing delirium.
What is Delirium?
Delirium is a term used to describe a sudden onset of confusion and changes in a person’s behaviour and alertness. These symptoms are often short lived, but can last for several weeks, or sometimes several months, even after their acute illness has resolved and they have been discharged from hospital.
Our focus is to try to identify people who are at risk of developing a delirium, or who already have a delirium, and try to explore various interventions that will help alleviate any distressing symptoms.
How family can help
New research is showing that Delirium symptoms can be reduced with greater relative inclusion and involvement.
If you have noticed your relative to be more confused than normal, please tell a member of staff immediately.
This is Me
‘This is me’ is a leaflet which can be used by families or carers to record details about their relative, which can help professionals better understand who the person really is and enable staff to deliver care that to meet individual needs.
The This is Me leaflet can be downloaded and either printed out and filled in by hand and given it to a member of staff looking after your relative, or save the file to a device and fill it out electronically. You can email this directly to the relevant ward – ask the Ward Sister or Charge Nurse for the specific email address to send this to.
On occasions, delirium symptoms may become severe and may cause a level of agitation or distress. We would encourage family to consider providing various non-precious familiar items or photographs which may help promote stimulation. These items could be placed in a bag (for example an unused toilet bag) or small box, and these may be helpful in providing an element of comfort and reassurance and help distract the person from what may be causing them fear or anxiety.
Some areas may have a small selection of activities and various items such as puzzles to use, to re-direct and provide comfort whilst their delirium symptoms are resolving.
On some occasions people may experience increasing levels of distress, as well as other symptoms such as hallucinations or paranoia. On these occasions we may need to consider introducing medication to help resolve these symptoms. If this measure is indicated then staff will endeavour to discuss this further with you as soon as possible.
Family can play an important role in supporting patients through their health care journey. In normal circumstances, flexible visiting arrangements could be offered were possible. However, the Covid-19 Pandemic has presented significant challenge in balancing the need for safety and the need for family contact. Some visiting restrictions may apply according to regional guidelines. Please discuss this fully with the Ward Sister and Charge Nurse of the relevant ward.
We would like to hear about the care and support received by patients and families during an episode of delirium.
Your feedback can help us learn and improve the care we provide to our patients.
Please tell us:
- What was good about the care you or your relative received?
- Were there any negatives about the care your relative received?
- How could we improve the care we provide?
Alternatively, scan the following code on your handheld device or call Care Opinion directly on 0800 122 3135 or provide feedback through the Trust’s online service user feedback form.
Your experience matters to us.