Enhancing hospital care of patients with cognitive impairment
Purpose: The patient-centred management of people with cognitive impairment admitted to acute health care facilities can be challenging. The TOP5 intervention utilises carers' expert biographical and social knowledge of the patient to facilitate personalised care. The purpose of this paper is to explore whether involvement of carers in the TOP5 initiative could improve patient care and healthcare delivery.
Design/methodology/approach: A small-scale longitudinal study was undertaken in two wards of one acute teaching hospital. The wards admitted patients with cognitive impairment, aged 70 years and over, under geriatrician care. Data for patient falls, allocation of one-on-one nurses ("specials"), and length-of-stay (LOS) over 38 months, including baseline, pilot, and establishment phases, were analysed. Surveys of carers and nursing staff were undertaken.
Findings: There was a significant reduction in number of falls and number of patients allocated "specials" over the study period, but no statistically significant reduction in LOS. A downward trend in complaints related to communication issues was identified. All carers (n=43) completing the feedback survey were satisfied or very satisfied that staff supported their role as information provider. Most carers (90 per cent) felt that the initiative had a positive impact and 80 per cent felt that their loved one benefitted. Six months after implementation of the initiative, 80 per cent of nurses agreed or strongly agreed that it was now easier to relate to carers of patients with cognitive impairment. At nine-ten months, this increased to 100 per cent.
Originality/value: Actively engaging carers in management of people with cognitive impairment may improve the patient, staff, and carer journeys, and may improve outcomes for patient care and service delivery.