Why think delirium?

A featured article from SCIE 18 October 2017
                       
                 
Sharon Blackburn CBE, policy and communications director, National Care Forum
       

Delirium is a sudden change in a person’s mental state and
potentially goes unidentified as the symptoms which people present with
can often be mistaken for depression or dementia. It is preventable in
30% of cases- so it is worth knowing about and more importantly being
able to recognise and respond to appropriately.

The role of the care home manager is immense and vital. 

One of the
many roles they fulfil is ensuring their staff are equipped and
resourced with the right information to care for residents. Given that
people over the age of 65 are at risk, it makes sense that this quick
guide be added to their tool kit of resources to assist day to day
practice.

Risk factors associated with delirium include recent hip fracture; cognitive impairment or dementia or a severe illness.

People
who present with delirium may have a range of signs and symptoms. They
can move from hyperactive delirium to hypo-active delirium during the
course of a day and the severity can vary.

So what does this look like?

People
may present with increased confusion; hallucinations; sleep
disturbance; reduced appetite and poor concentration to name just some
of the signs/symptoms.

The key is knowing the person,
understanding what is normal for them. Ensuring that they are only on
the medication that is absolutely necessary. Assessing, planning and
reviewing are all essential elements of caring for the person. The
essentials of ensuring that the person is free of pain; well hydrated
and eating well; able to sleep well and free from infection are some of
the ways to help minimise the risk of delirium.

It sounds like
common sense but often is not identified. Delirium whilst common, is
usually temporary so early identification is key to alleviating the
person’s distress.

Think Delirium!

Published by Residential Forum

The Residential Forum is to promote the achievement of high standards of care and support for children and adults living in residential care and nursing homes, supported housing, residential schools and colleges, hospices and hostels. It contributes to improving the quality of service to the public. Members of the Forum are people of standing and experience drawn from the public, private and voluntary sectors, as well as some who can speak for service users and carers.

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