We talk a lot about delirium after hip fracture, but what can we do about it?

Dr. Susan Freter is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Dalhousie University, and a staff geriatrician at the Nova Scotia Health Authority in Halifax, Canada.  She has a special interest in delirium prevention and management in orthopaedic patients.  

Geriatricians talk a lot about post-operative delirium.  It is common after surgeries, especially in people with a lot of risk factors (or we could say, especially in the presence of frailty), and even with recovery it makes for a bad experience.  The occurrence of hip fracture, which mostly befalls patients who are older and frail, demonstrates this routinely.  We know that taking extra care with at-risk patients can help to prevent delirium.  Taking extra care can manifest in different forms: educating the caregivers, paying attention to hydration (is the patient actually drinking the cup of water that is plonked down in front of them?), paying attention to constipation (preferably before a week has gone by), making sure hearing aids are in the ears, and using medication doses that are geared for frailty, rather than for strapping 20 year olds. But how can what we talk about be translated into what we do? Does the ‘doing’ actually work in practice? Continue reading

Attitudes and opportunities: Medical students’ and doctors’ attitudes towards older patients

Dr Rajvinder Samra is a Chartered Psychologist working as a Lecturer in Health and Social Care at The Open University. She enjoys researching the influence of attitudes and personality in medical settings and tweets at @RajvinderSamra Read her Age and Ageing Paper.

Social psychologists have been interested in attitudes for about 90 years now. Debate rages on about how much of what we do can be predicted from our attitudes. No doubt, over the past year, you will have read newspaper articles about how much someone’s attitude to a prominent issue covered in the media predicted their likelihood to vote for Brexit or Trump. This is an example of the attitude-behaviour link and the media trying to establish patterns so we can understand society better. The influence of attitudes on healthcare are frequently overlooked, but doctors’ or patients’ cognitive reasoning, preferences, values and emotions (i.e. all the things that come together to make up attitudes) can have a significant and meaningful impact on how services can, or should be, delivered. Continue reading

Patients with vertebral fragility fractures treated in hospital – could we do better?

Terence Ong is a Research Fellow funded by the Dunhill Medical Trust at the Department for Healthcare of Older People, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust. He discusses his Age and Ageing Paper Characteristics and outcomes of hospitalised patients with vertebral fragility fractures: a systematic review. He tweets @terenceongkk

Vertebral fragility fractures have received much attention lately due to growing research interest and increased awareness driven by high-profile osteoporosis groups such as the International Osteoporosis Foundation (through its vertebral fracture initiative) and the National Osteoporosis Society.

There is growing literature to support how well vertebral fragility fractures predicts future fractures, morbidity and risk of mortality. However, what has been lacking is research exploring the specific cohort of people with vertebral fractures who are admitted to hospital. Continue reading

‘Look out’ – assessing a patient’s vision for falls prevention, what should it look like?

Dr Kawa Amin represents the BGS on the advisory group for the National Audit of Inpatient Falls (NAIF). He is a Consultant Geriatrician, Consultant lead for falls service and Geriatrics Departmental Lead for Safety & Quality at Barking, Havering and Redbridge University Hospitals NHS Trust.

As part of my role on the NAIF advisory group I have been involved in the development of a new bedside vision assessment tool which enables ward staff to quickly assess a patient’s eyesight in order to help prevent them falling or tripping while in hospital.

Being acutely unwell is and in a different environment, is a stressful experience.  Even with reassuring care from clinical teams treating them, older people often need extra support in a ward environment.  Can you imagine how frightening such an experience might be for a patient with visual impairment?  It’s perhaps no wonder that poor vision is a risk for delirium.   Continue reading

A call for collaboration…

Cassandra Leese is a Nurse, Clinical Supervisor and a wannabe dog owner.  She occasionally remembers to tweet @contrarylass

In today’s economic climate, when health and social care are really feeling the crunch, I often find myself feeling morose about the future. Day after day we see the terrible pressures our overstretched services are under, read about the heartbreaking death of another promising doctor burnt out from battling it out in secondary care; or hear about another valuable service making drastic cuts. And selfishly, I’m rather cross that all this seems to have come at a time when I’m incredibly excited to have finally found my place in the nursing landscape, that of gerontology and geriatrics. Coming along to my first BGS West Midlands meeting this spring was a welcome reprieve from the madness spewed daily by the tabloids and renewed my faith that the good guys are still out there! Continue reading

Cognitive impairment, mortality and discharge from an acute hospital

Carole Fogg is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth/Portsmouth Hospitals Trust, (UK). She is a PhD Fellow under the Wessex Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Healthcare and Research, exploring hospital care and outcomes for patients with cognitive impairment and dementia. Her paper “The relationship between cognitive impairment, mortality and discharge characteristics in a large cohort of older adults with unscheduled admissions to an acute hospital: a retrospective observational study has recently been published in Age and Ageing. She tweets at @Carole_Fogg 

When older people with dementia are admitted to hospital, they are more likely to die or to stay in hospital longer than people without dementia. Many older people have cognitive impairment (CI) (problems with memory and thinking) which is a main feature of dementia, but have not yet been given a diagnosis, or may have CI due to other medical conditions. We investigated how common cognitive impairment is in older patients in hospital, and what the risks are for these patients of staying longer or dying in hospital. Continue reading

Spring Speakers Series: Denture Loss

Mili Doshi, clinical lead for Mouth Care Matters, discusses the impact of denture loss. She will be speaking at BGS Spring Meeting in Gateshead.

As a hospital dentist it’s always a heart sink moment when you get the referral from the ward that reads, “Mrs X has lost her dentures, please could you replace them”. If only it was that easy…

Mrs X has not only lost her dentures, but also the ability to eat her meals, communicate clearly, smile at her family and potentially, her dignity.

It is normally a similar story. Mrs X had fallen asleep and her dentures weren’t there when she woke up, she had wrapped them in some tissue to keep them clean, safe or left them on her meal tray.  One way or another they were accidentally mistaken for rubbish and disposed of. She had been in hospital for days yet no one had asked if she had dentures and therefore she wasn’t provided with a denture pot to keep them clean. Continue reading

Spring Speakers Series: Why worry about mouthcare?

Sam Shah discusses the HEE supported project exploring hydration, nutrition and mouthcare in hospital and community care settings. The project involves training staff and raising awareness to improve the quality of care, to help avoid admission and to support discharge. The insights from this project will be shared at the  BGS Spring Meeting in Gateshead on the 28th April at 9:30-11:00.

29.11.07. Enjoying healthy meals at Glanmarlais Care Home, Llandybie, Ammanford, left Mair Mills & right Olivia Jones. Picture Ralph Carpenter.

We are all accustomed to brushing our own teeth and cleaning our mouths, it’s entrenched in the daily routines of most people. Most of us are able to eat and drink ourselves and we understand the link between what we eat and our how our bodies respond. A big challenge in the care of frail older people, and those in high needs settings, is ensuring their hydration, nutrition and mouthcare needs are supported. Continue reading

Take time to talk! The importance of an informant history

Adam Dyer is a Final Year Medical Student in Trinity College Dublin. Dr. Sean Kennelly (MB PhD FRCPI) is a Consultant Physician in Geriatric and Stroke Medicine in Tallaght Hospital (Dublin, Ireland) and a Clinical Senior Lecturer in Medical Gerontology at Trinity College Dublin (TCD). The following work was presented as a platform presentation at the 64th Irish Gerontological Society Meeting in Killarney, Ireland (October, 2016).

Imagine you’re seeing a consult or you’re on a post-take ward round. How often do we examine a patient and identify cognitive deficits, see that the CT brain scan report and the MMSE score are readily on hand, but then ask staff about the patient’s premorbid cognition and function and are met with blank expressions?

An important factor which complicates the presentation of older people to acute hospitals is the presence of impaired cognitive status (either in the form of dementia, delirium or both). Continue reading

Spring Speakers Series: Assessing memory and thinking in stroke – it’s confusing

Dr Terry Quinn (Joint Stroke Association / CSO Senior Clinical Lecturer) has a clinical and research interest in post stroke cognitive decline. Supported by a Stroke Association Priority Program Grant he is pursuing a portfolio of work themed around how to assess cognition and mood in the Acute Stroke Unit. Terry will be sharing some of the findings from this and other work at the BGS Spring Meeting in Newcastle as part of a themed session on dementia. Terry tweets about all things cognitive @DrTerryQuinn and in his role as Coordinating editor of the Cochrane Dementia Group @cochraneDCIG

Specialist societies, clinical guidelines and audit standards all encourage us to assess cognition when patients present with stroke. Intuitively this seems like a sensible idea. We know that patients fear problems with memory and thinking more than they fear physical disability and we know that cognitive problems are extremely common in the post stroke period. What is less clear is how we should assess cognition in stroke. Continue reading