Dementia-friendly care models added to resource

October 2016   Comments

An updated resource is available for nurses to explore examples from across Canada and from other countries of innovative dementia-friendly care models and their related outcomes. CNA developed the quick-reference resource, Innovative Models of Health Care, which highlights programs and facilities that promote the principles of primary health care in their care models.

About 564,000 Canadians are living with dementia. The country’s aging population and the increase in chronic diseases and their associated risk factors have led to a greater number of individuals with dementia, increasing to the point of being an epidemic.

Caring for people with dementia requires a collaborative, interprofessional approach that is centred on patients and families and is integrated across the continuum of care. Nurses are an essential part of this approach.

While early detection is crucial to allow those with dementia to remain in their homes and communities longer, many are diagnosed at later stages and have multiple comorbidity and complex care needs. Given that a growing body of evidence indicates that cardiovascular disease risk factors are also risk factors for dementia, many older adults who need hospital care will have diagnoses that are complicated by cognitive decline. Hospitalizing individuals with dementia can mean negative outcomes for patients, as well as longer, more expensive hospital stays. British research conducted in 2005 indicates that in a typical 500-bed general hospital on any given day, 330 beds will be occupied by individuals 65 and older. Among them, 220 will have a mental disorder, including 102 with dementia, 96 with depression, 66 with delirium and 23 with other major mental health problems.

Innovative models are being used to educate and prepare nurses for primary care screening and cognitive assessments. This promising practice will help improve access to early diagnosis and the development of care plans. In addition, new models are being implemented that include RNs working in care coordination roles, similar to those used in cancer care services.

Dementia-friendly care is an umbrella term for an evidence-based approach to using the appropriate assessment, intervention and environment to reduce negative patient outcomes. Research shows that such reductions occur when health-care providers have the knowledge and skills to identify unmet needs and use suitable behaviour-management interventions. In addition, dementia-friendly care can lessen inappropriate use or overuse of antipsychotic medication, which can result in fewer falls, less time in hospital and fewer premature admissions to long-term care facilities.

The examples highlighted in Innovative Models of Health Care demonstrate the ways in which nurses are part of the culture change in dementia care and have been introducing key elements of dementia-friendly care in their work environments.

Some of the care models featured in the resource were included in Dementia in Canada: Recommendations to Support Care for Canada’s Aging Population, a brief CNA presented to the Senate standing committee on social affairs, science and technology in March.

Karey Shuhendler, RN, CCHN(C), MN

Karey Shuhendler, RN, CCHN(C), MN, is a CNA policy advisor.

comments powered by Disqus