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Ballarat Health Services's Cognitive Impairment Identifier. Image: Supplied

Alzheimer’s Australia touts cognitive impairment alert

Alzheimer’s Australia representatives joined assistant minister for health and aged care Ken Wyatt at Canberra Hospital to endorse a visual bedside alert for people with cognitive impairment.

The Cognitive Impairment Identifier (CII) forms part of the Dementia Care in Hospitals Program (DCHP), developed at Ballarat Health Services, which aims to improve awareness of and communication with people with dementia and their families.

DCHP and the identifier aim to support more individualised and responsive care to people with cognitive impairment and ensure all staff respond more appropriately.

Associate professor Mark Yates, consultant physician in geriatric medicine with Ballarat Health Services, said the identifier was developed by people with cognitive impairment and their families. “The information that formulated the background to this came from focus group work and a qualitative analysis of the experience these people had of the hospital, both for themselves and also from the perspective of their family members.”

Alzheimer’s Australia supports the CII as a national identifier and wants an integrated, Australia-wide program.

The chief executive of Alzheimer’s Australia, Carol Bennett, said evidence shows hospitals can be a dangerous place for people with dementia.

“Cognitive impairment is often not detected or is misdiagnosed," she said. "We know that 30–40 per cent of cases of delirium in hospitals can be prevented. The symbol and the education that comes with it are working to create a culture shift in hospitals, where this program has been trialled and is making a positive difference to the delivery of care for people with a cognitive impairment.”

The DCHP model has been implemented in 22 hospitals in Victoria and, with government funding, is now being launched in Queen Elizabeth Hospital in South Australia as part of the Central Adelaide Local Health Network, Canberra Hospital, Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital in Western Australia, and Royal Hobart Hospital in Tasmania.

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