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DeliriumWhy this priority?


Delirium is a common and serious complication of dementia with a poor prognosis. Research evidence suggests multicomponent care planning is effective in its prevention. Awareness and understanding of this is low amongst health professionals and carers, therefore an educational and training approach is required.

Whilst treating the causes of delirium is vital, the evidence that specific programmes of delirium care improve prognosis is limited. However, multicomponent care planning aimed at delirium prevention has been shown to be effective.

The development and implementation of strategies for delirium prevention and diagnosis in high risk patients will result in reduce rates of restrictive practices.


How big is the problem?

  • There is significant impact on care services, most strands of which are struggling to deal with current demand and the future need will be even greater. Delirium really is a whole community issue, but awareness of its impact is developing from a very low baseline across all areas where care is delivered
  • Delirium is the commonest surgical complication in the elderly (between 20-60%) and it increases the risk of long term care
  • Dementia is associated with a 10-fold risk of developing delirium. We know that some 80% of people who live in 24-hour care settings will have dementia, many of whom will be undiagnosed, putting this population at very high risk of developing delirium
  • Only 1 in 8 admissions to hospital are correctly coded for delirium

Our goal?

There is a need to identify those at high risk, prevent if possible, and manage symptoms when they are fully manifested at an early stage. We will work to place delirium awareness on a par with dementia awareness as a public and professional health theme.


How will we achieve it?

We will create a community of practice network for those professionals (across a range of clinical specialties) engaged in delirium prevention, identification and treatment to share learning and best practice resources. We will hold a region-wide priorities setting event to bring this community of practice together alongside industry partners to ascertain consensus of future EM PSC activity in this area.


How will we know if we’re making an impact?

We will raise awareness of delirium in health and social care settings and develop a programme of work.


Further informaton

Delirium film
Watch a film we've made about Delirium and how one patient's routine 4 day stay in hospital became 4 weeks.

Delirium infographics
We have produced a 2 page pdfdelirium infographic with details from the East Midlands and nationally, including average length of stay.

The infographics for the East Midlands were based on a much more pdfdetailed data pack on delirium produced by our Health Analytics and Informatics team.

What is Delirium? booklet

We have a produced a guide called pdfWhat is delirium? aimed at patients, families and professionals on how to recognise delirium.