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Title: The perceived and observed needs of patients with dementia admitted to acute medical wards
Authors: Scerri, Anthony
Scerri, Charles
Innes, Anthea
Keywords: Dementia
Qualitative research
Dementia -- Patients -- Care
Older people -- Psychology
Hospital utilization
Aging -- Psychological aspects
Issue Date: 2020
Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.
Citation: Scerri, A., Scerri, C., & Innes, A. (2020). The perceived and observed needs of patients with dementia admitted to acute medical wards. Dementia, 19(6), 1997-2017.
Abstract: It is acknowledged that the needs of persons living with dementia admitted in acute hospitals are not always met. Previous studies have focused on the perceived needs of professional caregivers or family members whilst the voices of patients with dementia in acute hospitals have not been extensively reported. This may have contributed to the under-recognition of the needs of persons living with dementia. The aim of this study was to categorise the perceived and observed needs of persons with dementia admitted in acute medical wards and to explore whether these needs are being or have been met. Thirteen people with dementia in three medical wards, who could verbally communicate with the researcher, were purposively selected as research participants. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to elicit each participant’s experiences of their hospital stay and whether their needs were perceived to have been/are being met. Moreover, routine care with the same participants was observed using Dementia Care Mapping. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs was used as a framework to categorise care needs. Our findings demonstrate that basic needs such as toileting, feeding, drinking, continence and comfort were not always met. Moreover, the largest gap between met and unmet needs was found in patients who were either under constant observation or unable to communicate. Too much emphasis was perceived and observed to be given on what staff considered as safety needs at the expense of other needs. The patients’ need for social contact and self-esteem such as dignity and respect were often ignored and this led to patients feeling devalued. Hospital staff have to be more aware of the holistic needs of patients with dementia in acute settings and the way care is delivered in order to make up for these unmet needs, thus facilitating person-centred care.
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