Ending confusion: UOW aged care specialist Victoria Traynor hopes a new training program will improve delirium care. Picture: Paul Jones
Aninnovative program to help combat delirium in older people willbe trialled at two of the region’s specialist aged care hospitals.
Bulli and Coledale hospitals will pilot the program which was developed by the University of Wollongong in conjunction with the Illawarra Shoalhaven Local Health District.
Aged care specialist Associate Professor Victoria Traynor said the education program would give nurses and allied health specialists the skills to better recognise and treat delirium.
Professor Traynor said the condition which affects up to 50 per cent of older Australians admitted to hospital often went undiagnosed.
‘’Delirium is mainly caused by untreated infection, dehydration or post-operative complication,’’ she said.
‘’The symptoms are immediate confusion and disorientation which can cause a person to become very agitated or upset, or it can cause them to become very sleepy or drowsy.
‘’It’s very often undiagnosed because when an older person is in hospital they are quite unwell anyway so these symptoms may seem like a natural consequence of their illness.
‘’It’s also often mistaken for depression or dementia.’’
Professor Traynor said without prompt diagnosis, and treatment, the condition could be fatal.
‘’One episode of delirium could cause chronic health problems or evendeath,’’ she said.
‘’If an elderly person experiences an episode in hospital it’s also more likely thatthey will need to be relocated to a nursing home.
‘’But if promptly diagnosed and treated –with antibiotics or rehydration –it can be cleared up in 12 hours.’’
Some 65 nurses or allied health professionals will receive the training during the pilot, which if successful will be extended to Shellharbour and St Vincent’s hospitals and then beyond.
Professor Traynor said the program focused on skill development in the aged careor health setting, rather than classroom-style learning.
‘’Practitioners often find it hard to connect this type of learning to real-life practice so a more hands-on, work-based learning model was needed,’’ she said.
‘’So the programincludes videos, face-to-face sessions and role-playing of clinical scenarios.’’
She said theprogram – launched at Bulli Hospital on Monday –would be self-sustainingwith those trained-up then able to pass on their knowledge and skills to colleagues.
The resources developed from the project would also be made available online.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.