Advice for family, friends and carers to support people with dementia admitted to hospital

March 29, 2023

Healthwatch East Sussex’s Information and Signposting service helps people to access the right health and social care services for their needs. We also enable people to share their experiences or make a complaint about a service they have used.  

We have recently heard about the experiences of people with dementia being admitted to hospital. 

How do people with dementia experience hospital? 

Going to hospital, whether it is a planned or unplanned admission, can be a frightening and disorientating experience for people living with dementia. The complex needs of a person with dementia can present specific challenges in the hospital environment which may impact upon their care. These include problems with communication, increased periods of inactivity impacting negatively on physical and mental health, and increased disorientation. 

There are currently over 10,000 people living with dementia in East Sussex. People living with dementia can be more prone to injuries and illness than those without dementia, meaning they tend to require more hospital treatments and the length of time they stay in hospital tends to be longer. 

Top tips to support a loved one with dementia 

The Alzheimer’s Society have put together some top tips for family, friends and carers to help support their loved one during a hospital stay, including: 

  • Ask what support the hospital can offer people with dementia, 
  • Share information about the person with dementia, 
  • Provide comfort and reassurance to the person, 
  • Learn to recognise delirium in a person with dementia, 
  • Support the person with dementia to eat and drink, 
  • Help the staff to manage pain the person may be feeling, 
  • Support the person if they are walking about. 

How do hospitals support people with dementia? 

East Sussex Hospital Trust (ESHT) have produced an information resource for family, friends and carers of people living with dementia.  They recommend that carers let staff know that the person they care for has dementia, and that they ask to speak to the Registered Nurse who will be in charge of the person’s care. They also encourage families to complete the ‘Reach Out To Me’ or ‘This is me’ form, that can help to promote a person-centred approach to care whilst at hospital. 

ESHT also support John’s Campaign by recognizing that a person with dementia has the right to be supported in hospital by their loved-one at whatever time is right for them.  

If families need any further information or support, they can contact the Dementia Care Team, who support the care and needs of people with dementia whilst in hospital, on 0300 131 5515 for patients admitted to Eastbourne District General Hospital, or 0300 131 4898 for patients admitted to Conquest Hospital. 

If you would like to share your experiences of health or social care with us, you can leave a review on our Feedback Centre, or contact our Information and Signposting service on 0333 101 4007 or email . 

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