Delirium in older patients

Reducing harm in older inpatients with and at risk of delirium

Delirium is a serious condition where a person experiences a disturbance in attention, perception, awareness and cognition. It is a common complication in older hospitalised patients, affecting 25–40 per cent of inpatients aged 65 and older*. 

This project will pilot a combination of a staff education program called A View From Here and a comprehensive ward-based improvement program called Eat Walk Engage in a rehabilitation ward at Redcliffe hospital.

A View From Here is a modular online program developed by Dementia Training Australia which helps nurses and other health professionals understand the care experience from the viewpoint of the person with cognitive impairment (dementia or delirium). Eat Walk Engage helps the ward multidisciplinary team to improve care for their older patients. It has been demonstrated to significantly reduce delirium and can enhance functional recovery in acute care wards.

The project will aim to improve patient outcomes and staff skills, and promote adherence to new Australian standards in delirium care in hospitals.

The data will help determine the feasibility and acceptability of an integrated model of care being rolled out across both acute and sub-acute settings.

Outcomes

Results show that:

  • Eat Walk Engage is feasible and acceptable, with both qualitative and quantitative data evidencing its effectiveness

  • similar resourcing is required in acute and sub-acute settings

  • the education component for clinicians is feasible and acceptable, but only if staff are specifically allocated time to complete the training

  • clinical outcomes showed promising improvements in functional recovery and more patients discharged home.

Future steps include conducting a randomised control trial in the rehab setting to demonstrate cost impact and create a case for future funding and sustainable implementation.

Project investigators

Project investigators engage with and draw on the expertise of partners within universities, research institutes, and hospital and health services around Queensland.

  • Adjunct Professor Alison Mudge, Clinical Director Research and Education, Internal Medicine and Aged Care, Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, Metro North Hospital and Health Service, The University of Queensland (Lead)

*https://clinicalexcellence.qld.gov.au/improvement-exchange/eat-walk-engage

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