Care of patients with dementia in an acute trauma and orthopaedics unit

G McCorkell, D Harkin, V McCrory, M Lafferty, Vivien Coates

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Aim To increase awareness of the needs of patients with dementia in the trauma and orthopaedics unit of one acute hospital, and to collaborate with staff on the unit to identify ways of improving the care experienced by these patients and their families. Method An action research approach was used and three action research cycles were completed. Data were obtained retrospectively for 20 patients with dementia who were admitted to the unit for treatment. Deficiencies in the care of these patients were identified and related to communication, pain management and the recognition of delirium. In response, a dementia toolkit was developed by nurses and implemented on the unit to improve the care of patients with dementia. Findings Comparison of pre-implementation and post-implementation audit results indicated a significant improvement in all aspects of care for patients with dementia in the trauma and orthopaedics unit, as a result of the implementation of the dementia toolkit. Education and training were provided to staff on the ward to ensure the toolkit was implemented appropriately. Conclusion It is important to consider the specific needs of patients with dementia in acute care settings, not only the primary reason for their admission. The involvement and inclusion of staff in determining what change was needed on the unit, how change would be undertaken and the positive effects of change, demonstrates how action research can inform and improve clinical practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)44-53
JournalNursing Standard
Issue number36
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 3 May 2017


  • action research
  • acute care
  • communication
  • delirium
  • dementia
  • older people
  • research
  • trauma


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