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The care of older people with dementia in acute hospitals


Dr Fiona Cowdell
Centre for Wellbeing and Quality of Life
Bournemouth University
Room 109
Royal London House, Christchurch Road
Bournemouth BH1 3LT, UK
Telephone: 01202 961474


cowdell f. (2010) The care of older people with dementia in acute hospitals. International Journal of Older People Nursing 5, 83–92.

Aim.  To explore the experiences of patients and nursing staff of the care received by older people with dementia in acute hospitals.

Background.  The prevalence of dementia is steadily increasing as is the number of people with the condition requiring acute hospital care. Significant concerns about the quality of this care have been raised. There is a paucity of knowledge about the views of such care from the perspectives of people with dementia and nurses.

Method.  An ethnographic approach was used and data were collected thorough observation and interviews in one acute hospital in the United Kingdom.

Findings.  Findings suggest that care for older people with dementia in acute hospitals is not always optimum although there are clear exceptions. Generally, people with dementia found the delivery of care and the experience of being in hospital distressing as they did not know what was happening and they were often ignored. Nurses strive to give good care but do not always achieve this.

Conclusion.  Bourdieu’s Model of Practice assists in explaining why care is as it is. There is a clear need to improve current practice.

Relevance to clinical practice.  It is imperative that innovative methods of developing practice are implemented and evaluated. Education alone will not lead to sustained changes in practice. Further research into this subject needs to be undertaken.