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When a person with dementia is leaving hospital

24 January 2019
Volume 28 · Issue 2


People with dementia can find change particularly difficult. Aysha Mendes looks at how to minimise distress experienced by these patients when they leave the ward to return home or move to a new care setting

Changes in routine for a person with dementia can be highly distressing. If a person moves during a hospital stay, whether from ward to ward or within one ward, it is likely staff will experience what feels like ‘challenging behaviour’ as the person tries to express anxiety and distress (NHS Education for Scotland (NHSES), 2011).

It may be that staff have made every effort to minimise moves and disruption, and the person has settled into a routine on the ward. However, routine will be shaken up again when it is time to discharge the person home or to a care home if their functional ability has changed since admission (NHSES, 2011). Regardless of the situation, discharge requires planning, preparation and a gentle approach. Nurses have a vital role in making people with dementia feel secure in hospital, ensuring they are recognised, listened to and communicated with throughout their stay. Facilitating a smooth transition is important for every patient; however, for a person with dementia, a little extra attention is required to minimise the stress that can arise from the combination of changes to the environment and the features of their condition.

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