People with dementia in hospital are susceptible to delirium, pain and psychological symptoms. These diagnoses are associated with worse patient outcomes, yet are often underdiagnosed and undertreated. Distress is common in people experiencing delirium, pain and psychological symptoms. Screening for distress may therefore be a sensitive way of recognising unmet needs. The purpose of this paper is to describe the development and feasibility testing of the Distress Recognition Tool (DRT). The DRT is a single question screening tool that is incorporated into existing hospital systems. It encourages healthcare professionals to regularly look for distress and signposts them to relevant resources when distress is identified.Design/methodology/approachThe authors tested the feasibility of using the DRT in people with dementia admitted on two general hospital wards. Mixed methods were used to assess uptake and potential mechanisms of impact, including frequency of use, observation of ward processes and semi-structured interviews with primary stakeholders.FindingsOver a 52-day period, the DRT was used during routine care of 32 participants; a total of 346 bed days. The DRT was completed 312 times; an average of 0.9 times per participant per day. Where participants had an identified carer, 83 per cent contributed to the assessment at least once during the admission. Thematic analysis of stakeholder interviews, and observational data suggested that the DRT was quick and simple to complete, improved ward awareness of distress and had the potential to improve care for people with dementia admitted to hospital.Originality/valueThis is the first short screening tool for routinely detecting distress in dementia in any setting. Its uptake was positive, and if effective it could improve care and outcomes for people with dementia, however it was beyond the scope of the study test this.
Quality in Ageing and Older Adults – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 17, 2020
Keywords: Pain; Dementia; Distress; Behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia; Delirium; Distress Recognition Tool; DRT; General hospital; Psychological symptoms