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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

First national audit of care for people with dementia in hospital begins

Embargoed until 15 March 2010

The first ever national audit of care provided by hospitals for people with dementia in England and Wales begins this week, with the ultimate aim of creating an agreed standard of care and benchmarking system for care of the elderly.

Over 90% of acute trusts in England and Wales with general hospitals (143 out of 151) have put forward at least one hospital to take part in the audit, with 207 organisations taking part in total.

The National Audit of Dementia (care in general hospitals) runs from March-August 2010, with observations taking place from October this year, and the final report on the audit’s national findings due in December 2011. Individual hospitals will be sent a report comparing their performance against the national picture.

The audit – commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership and carried out by the Royal College of Psychiatrists – will gather data from case notes, organisational structures, carers, staff and patients to provide a comprehensive national picture of care provision. 

Hospitals will be asked:

  • Whether people with dementia receive comprehensive physical and mental health assessment
  • How discharge is planned and supported
  • How family carers are kept informed and involved
  • Whether staff are trained in dementia awareness
  • Whether and why antipsychotic medication has been prescribed

In a smaller sample of hospital wards, environments will be assessed to determine if they address the needs of people with dementia.  Feedback on the experience of care and delivering care will be collected from patients, carers and staff.  Observation of care interactions will be carried out by teams of two from within the hospital (not from the ward observed). 

Professor Peter Crome, Immediate Past President of the British Geriatrics Society and Chair of the Audit Steering Group, said "This is an important step in the process of improving the care of patients with dementia who are admitted to general hospitals. By measuring current services for dementia patients in acute hospitals and identifying best practice, a clear programme for staff training and organisational change can be implemented and monitored.”

The feedback from the audit will ultimately be used to develop a quality mark for care of the elderly. Wards will be invited to join a review scheme and measure their performance against standards and ongoing measures of patient experience.  Wards will be awarded a mark which will stand for a comprehensive statement of their ability to provide a high standard of care.

The National Audit of Dementia has been funded by the Department of Health and commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership (HQIP). HQIP Chief Executive Robin Burgess said: "We are proud to be able to support this important audit. Dementia care is a vital priority to many thousands of people and this audit offers the ability to assess the quality of care against best practice standards, and in doing so, offer re-assurance to carers that their loved ones are receiving the help they need."

The Royal College of Psychiatrists is managing the project, in collaboration with the British Geriatrics Society, Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of General Practitioners and the Alzheimer’s Society.

For further information, please contact:
Sarah Nevins
Press & Social Media Officer
Telephone: 020 3701 2543
Claire McLoughlin
Media & Communications Manager 
Telephone: 020 3701 2544
Out of hours contact number: 07860 755896


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