Recognising and preventing delirium

Delirium  is  a  sudden  change  in  a  person’s  mental  state.  It  is  a  serious condition  that  is sometimes mistaken for dementia or, more rarely, depression.

Unlike dementia, delirium develops quickly and is usually temporary. Having delirium can mean:
•     longer hospital stays
•     increased risk of dementia
•     increased mortality.
Treatment will depend on the underlying cause and should be managed by a healthcare professional, such as a GP. Being well-informed may help reduce any distress for the person and their family.


Care staff should provide information that shows:
•     where to find support
•     the importance of telling care staff about any sudden changes
•     delirium is a common condition that is usually temporary
•     how other people with delirium have felt.

Recognising and preventing 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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