Technology helping in the fight against dementia

Scunthorpe General Hospital
Scunthorpe General Hospital

Technology is helping hospital staff identify patients who could have early onset dementia.

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust already uses the WebV system as a virtual ward to manage patients on a daily basis.

The system allows clinicians to see at a glance the number of patients on each ward, what their names are, which consultant they are under the care of and if they have any specific health needs such as they are at high risk of falls or are in isolation for infection control purposes.

Now the system, which was developed by IT staff at the Trust in partnership with clinicians, is helping the Trust ensure that patients who require a risk assessment for dementia receive it and in a timely fashion.

The WebV screens are touch screen and there’s one on every ward across the Trust’s three hospitals in Scunthorpe, Grimsby and Goole as well as in the Trust’s bed management centres where they are used to monitor beds across the organisation.

In April a new alert was developed that pops up on the screen in a red box to notify staff when a patient is due a dementia screening assessment.

The Trust has targets to screen 90 per cent of patients aged 75 or over who are admitted as an emergency and to refer 90 per cent of those identified as requiring further assessment to specialist mental health teams.

Since the alert on the WebV screens was introduced the Trust’s performance against its targets has improved dramatically. In March 2014 68 per cent of patients aged over 75 admitted as an emergency at Grimsby and 83 per cent at Scunthorpe were screened. In April these figures rose to 99 and 96 per cent. In terms of referrals to the specialist mental health teams the figures rose from 78 per cent at Grimsby and 72 per cent at Scunthorpe to 100 per cent on both sites.

Rachel Greenbeck, quality matron with the lead for dementia at the Trust, said: “Early diagnosis allows a person with dementia and their family to receive help in understanding and adjusting to the diagnosis and to prepare for the future in an appropriate way. This may include making legal and financial arrangements, changes to living arrangements, and finding out about aids and services that will enhance the quality of life for the person with dementia and their family, friends and carers.”

The Trust was awarded the ‘working towards becoming dementia friendly’ recognition award by the Dementia Action Alliance earlier this year. Other steps the Trust has taken to improve the care for dementia patients include dementia friendly bays on some of the wards, dementia champions on every ward, drop-in sessions with the Alzheimer’s Society and the use of the ‘My Life’ tool which lets staff know about a person’s preferences, needs and likes and dislikes.