Surgical pre-assessment programme helps patients with dementia have a more relaxed stay in hospital

An occupational therapist from the Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust has told an audience of international dementia experts how a new flagging system is helping elective surgical patients with dementia have a more relaxed and dignified stay in hospital.


Hospitals can be particularly disorientating and frightening places for people with dementia who can become distressed by new and confusing environments. Occupational therapist Rita Freyne, 27, told delegates at the Alzheimer’s Disease International Conference in Budapest how the Trust has sought to overcome this through a surgical pre-assessment programme designed to support patients before, during and after their surgery. 


Under the programme all patients with a formal diagnosis of dementia or cognitive impairment having an elective operation at the Trust are automatically flagged by the pre assessment team to the dementia care team. They ensure that all the arrangements are in place to meet the individual’s needs such as making sure they receive certain types of meals in hospital to keeping family members who live far away updated on the patient’s progress.


Patients and carers also receive an information pack which includes:


  • the Trust’s carer’s passport which enables carers to visit patients outside and beyond normal visiting hours,

  • a carers booklet with information about the patient’s hospital stay,

  • Examples of Trust signage for toilets and showers so the patient is familiar with these before they come into hospital and;

  • a ‘This is Me’ booklet for the carer and patient to fill in with information about the patient which can then be shared with the ward staff ahead of the patient’s stay.


Rita said: “By making contact with patients and their carers before they come into hospital, we are able to put in place a plan that meets the patient’s specific needs so that their stay with us is as stress free and comfortable as possible.

“Since the implementation of the programme, we have seen patients with dementia coming into hospital on an elective basis have a much more relaxed experience and in some cases a reduction in the patients length of stay. The pre-assessment team have become creative and effective with person centred care and hope to build on the success of this high standard of care for this patient group.”


The Trust implemented the pre-assessment programme in 2014.