Can keeping up routine activities help people with dementia to remain independent during a hospital stay?

Research project: Enhancing daily activities and independence for hospitalised people with dementia

Lead Investigator: Ms Lisa Patrick
Institution: Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
Grant type: Clinical Training Fellowship
Duration: 36 months
Amount: £70,312

Why did we fund this project?

Comments from members of our Research Network:

'Ms Patrick's innovative attitude towards the treatment of Alzheimer's disease patients on the hospital ward demonstrates her commitment to the pursuit of best practice. It is matched by her pursuit of academic excellence.'

'A valid aim and potentially very useful study.'

'Can potentially help to enhance many peoples lives.'

What do we already know?

About a quarter of people occupying hospital beds are people living with dementia. People with dementia are also more likely to stay in hospital for longer and to return to hospital after being discharged. Being taken into hospital reduces quality of life for a person with dementia as they are less able to take part in their normal daily activities. It can also negatively impact their freedom of choices about their future.

Ms Patrick is a registered occupational therapist who has developed a specialist interest in dementia care. Her previous work in the area of improving patient experience has included improving resources and training so that people with dementia could participate in more activities on the ward, facilitating better ways for people with dementia to settle into new care homes and 'Pets as therapy' weekly dog visits. 

Based on this previous research and as Ms Patrick continues to work on hospital wards, she is well placed to understand the impact of admission of a person with dementia's quality of life. Ms Patrick and her colleagues propose that by keeping up with normal activities, the person living with dementia will be able to stay independent and be more likely to be discharged home sooner. 

What does this project involve?

The researchers will talk to those living with dementia, their carers and hospital staff to see how their past experiences have influenced their views on the best ways to remain independent while staying in hospital.

Ms Patrick will meet with people living with dementia and their carers and together they will come up with an appropriate person-centred occupational health strategy to help the person to stay as independent as possible while in hospital. The strategy that they develop will involve keeping up normal daily activities, such as washing and dressing themselves. 

Loss of independence can happen when medical staff take over the day to day responsibilities of personal hygiene and self-care, especially for people living with dementia during a hospital stay. For this reason the researchers will also design a strategy that will use daily activity skills to help the person to do their own day to day care. 

Through working with hospital staff Ms Patrick and colleagues will determine how appropriate their strategies are in a hospital setting. The researchers will ensure that their results will be communicated to the medical, care and research communities through publication in peer-reviewed journals, conferences and therapies meetings. The data will also be shared with the public in video format via social media

How will this benefit people with dementia?

This project aims to increase the quality of life of people living with dementia in hospital by helping them to be as independent as possible. The researchers aim to develop a framework which helps those living with dementia and are in hospital to remain independent and continue to be connected to daily life.

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