CARING FOR OLDER PERSONSWITH DEMENTIA IN AN ACUTE MEDICAL CARE SETTING:AN EXPLORATION OF NURSES’ EXPERIENCES AND PERCEPTIONS

Abstract Ref: 
0313

Kay Fitzmaurice1,Angela Flynn2
1University Hospital Kerry, Tralee, Ireland
2University College Cork, Cork, Ireland

Background: Presently in Ireland there are 55,000 people with dementia, with figures
projected to rise to 130,000 by 2041. In acute hospitals, ensuring the provision of high
standard, person-centred care for people with dementia is an essential part of policy and
practice development. While nurses are key in implementing safe, effective and evidenced
based care it is unclear at this moment what their experiences are, when caring for patients
with dementia. It is twelve years since the last study was conducted in Ireland in a purposebuilt
unit for older patients so will not be reflective of an acute care setting.Therefore, it is
timely to gather a current description of nurses’ experiences and perceptions in caring for
patients with dementia in an acute care setting.

Methods: A purposeful sample of nine nurses working in an acute medical ward
caring for patients with dementia participated in the study. Data was collected
using semi-structured interviews, transcribed verbatim and analysed using content
analysis.

Results: The findings are current and highlight that nurse’s display immense respect and
empathy to patients with dementia and see beyond the dementia to the individuality of
the person. This demonstrates positive attitudes towards these patients, despite organisational
and environmental constraints. The findings further identify that staffing levels
are inadequate and that nurses require specific education on dementia. Furthermore,
the organisational culture and environmental design are not conducive for patients with
dementia and changes need implementing in line with the IrishNationalDementia Strategy
and the Dementia Friendly Hospital Design Guideline.

Conclusion: These findings have provided a current view of nurses’ experiences and
perceptions of caring for patients with dementia in an acute medical ward and support
previous study findings. Strategies are now required to address these issues, with a focus on
the six priority action areas fromThe Irish National Dementia Strategy.