Dementia and Delirium team

What is Dementia?

Dementia is a broad term that describes a set of symptoms including memory loss, challenges with thinking, processing, problem solving and language. Many different diseases and events lead to the development of these symptoms.

“Research shows there are more than 850,000 people in the UK who have dementia. One in 14 people over the age of 65 have dementia, and the condition affects 1 in 6 people over 80.

“The number of people with dementia is increasing because people are living longer. It is estimated that by 2025, the number of people with dementia in the UK will be more than 1 million.” (https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dementia/about/)

Types of dementia

Alzheimer’s disease

This is the most common type of dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease is a physical condition which affects the brain. Protein builds up between nerve cells and develops into plaques and tangles. These plaques and tangles interrupt, and eventually stop, the cells from communicating with each other resulting in cell death. This cell death leads to loss of brain tissue.

Vascular dementia

Vascular dementia develops when there is an interruption to the blood supply in the brain. This occurs, for example, if someone has a stroke, TIA or a head injury that results in hypoxia.

Mixed dementia

Mixed dementia is diagnosed when someone has more than one disease process which is contributing to their presentation. People most frequently have a combination of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia although other combinations also exist.

Rarer types

There are over 100 different types of dementia. Some of the rarer types include Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), Normal pressure hydrocephalus and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP).

Please see the Alzheimer’s society website for details of these conditions: https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/about-dementia/types-dementia/rarer-types-dementia

Signs and symptoms of dementia

Regardless of which type of dementia is diagnosed and what part of the brain is affected, each person will experience dementia in their own unique way.

  • Memory problems
  • Cognitive ability e.g. processing information
  • Communication
  • Changes in personality and behaviour
  • Emotional and language dysfunction
  • Spatial disorientation
  • Functional disability.

Delirium

Delirium is a common medical problem that is characterised by changes in mental function and occurs more often among older people.

When delirium occurs, people are confused and may be either very agitated or quiet and drowsy.

The onset of delirium is always sudden. It usually only lasts for a few days but may persists for weeks. It can be a serious condition.

More information on the causes of delirium and the signs and symptoms.

The dementia and delirium teams’ aim is to achieve excellence in dementia and delirium care. We will accomplish this through a consistent approach in recognition, management and transfer of care for all our patients across the organisation.

The Yeovil Hospital team consists of a specialist matron/head of service, two clinical nurse specialists, a nursing associate, three healthcare activity assistant and a project support officer. They are available Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm.

The Musgrove Park Hospital team consists of one lead nurse specialist, three clinical nurse specialists and five Support workers and are available 8.30am to 18.30pm Monday to Friday and weekends 8.30am to 4.30pm.

What we offer and provide

The team assess and support patients with a formal diagnosis of dementia, those who have a suspected dementia and patients with an acute confusion known as delirium, as well offering support and advice to their carers and relatives.

Our service is not currently able to provide support for out-patients. Follow up services are provided by community based teams.

The dementia care team provides:

  • Support to patients who are living with dementia, have a cognitive impairment or have delirium
  • Support with symptoms of agitated or distressed behaviour
  • Discharge planning
  • Family/carer liaison
  • Support and advice on medication
  • Therapeutic interventions
  • Training and education to staff
  • Offer advise around EOL care for those with dementia
  • Support ward with advice around Liberty Protection Safeguards.

How people can access your service

Referrals can be made by doctors, nurses and all professionals on the wards, along with professionals within the community.

Families and carers can request our involvement at any time via the ward staff or by telephone.