Projections of Older Adults Population

Are Nurses Ready to Meet the Growing Demand of Dementia Care?

By Clearday Research Team

These days, hospitals are facing a severe shortage in staff that’s near impossible to ignore. Although all healthcare professionals in hospital settings face the brunt of this challenge, nurses find it particularly difficult. This can be amplified for those caring for dementia patients due to the lack of training and resources at hand. Understaffed hospitals cannot keep up with the growing demand of trained nurses to treat the full spectrum of needs for dementia patients that include psychological, social, and physical care (George, 2013). In fact, 68% said hospital care was not person-centred – meaning not taking into account the unique needs and preferences of each dementia care patient, who are on various levels of decline and functionality  (Beardon et. al, 2018).

The situation fares no better in inpatient settings where, beyond lack of nurses’ training and ability to provide person-centered care to dementia patients, larger organizational factors complicate the care burden for nurses. These organizational factors tend to include understaffing, a hospital care culture that focuses on acute care for physical issues, and lack of control over the dementia care patient’s environment. Nurses report feeling the emotional toll that they cannot better help the critical psychological and social needs of dementia care patients due to competing responsibilities for other patients. Further, they have no control over the changing hospital environment, which can contribute to dementia care patients’ functional decline and increase health risks. 

Still, lack of training plays a key role. In a survey, family carers believed nurses were under-trained and 67% were dissatisfied with their dementia-related expertise (Beardon et. al, 2018). As a result, training nurses in dementia care can be impactful, but this impact is limited by larger organizational factors that might limit use.

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