New Report Highlights Importance of Investing in Nurse Leaders to Improve Dementia Care

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The Royal College of Nursing has today published the results of a major year-long programme, which has seen nine NHS trusts develop innovative ways to improve dementia care in hospitals.

The programme, which was funded by the RCN Foundation, has been launched at the Transforming Dementia Care in Hospital conference and includes a number of examples of strategies – ranging from trust-wide education programmes, improving individualised care and supporting family carers.

An independent evaluation of the programme, carried out by the Association for Dementia Studies at the University of Worcester, showed that commitment and leadership from trust boards, as well as investing in dedicated dementia nurse specialists, was integral to achieving improvements in dementia care.

The programme was found to help clinical leads achieve some very positive outcomes for patients and improve engagement with family carers over a relatively short period of time.

Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN, said: “High quality care for people with dementia will require dedicated time and resources, as well as strong leadership from trust boards. With more than 900,000 people with dementia attending NHS hospitals every year, this is not an issue which can be ignored.

“Without dedicated time and resource to network, share learning and evaluate practice, high quality care for people with dementia will be difficult to deliver across the NHS.”

The Association for Dementia Studies (ADS) has been working closely with the RCN over the last two years to improve the standards of health care for patients in hospitals who have dementia.

ADS Director, Professor Dawn Brooker, said: “People with dementia need hospital services to be able to care for them properly if they become ill or have an accident. All too often, nurses and other professionals feel out of their depth with patients who have dementia. This RCN programme developed skilled leadership within NHS Trusts so that the needs of patients and their families could be fully met. We saw some real commitment and innovation from hospitals that participated to radically change how services were delivered.”