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Keywords:

  • acute care;
  • best practice;
  • care models;
  • chronic confusion;
  • cognitive impairment;
  • dementia

Aim.  This paper reviews the theoretical and research-based literature related to the management of people with chronic confusion as a consequence of dementia in the acute care setting.

Background.  People aged 65 years and over are at increased risk of poor outcomes when admitted to the acute care setting as a result of comorbity and mismanagement of their chronic confusion. The challenge of caring for people with dementia in acute care is one that requires special attention.

Results.  The theoretical literature outlines a number of principles of care necessary for best practice in the care of people with dementia. A number of different models of care are reported in the literature and some evaluative research has been undertaken to assess the benefits of the different models.

Conclusion.  There are a number of interventions that if put into place in acute care may improve care of people with dementia and reduce the burden of care. There is emerging evidence that interventions such as staff education, skilled expertise, standardized care protocols and environmental modification help to meet the needs of people with dementia in acute hospital settings. This paper adds to our current understanding of management of dementia in the acute care setting, an area that demonstrates the need to move from descriptive to intervention studies to ensure evidence for care of persons with a dementing condition.