Managing verbal agitation in people with dementia and delirium
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Managing verbal agitation in people with dementia and delirium

Francesca Inkley Deputy sister, Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust
Sarah Goldberg Associate professor, Older person’s care, School of Health Sciences, University of Nottingham

Francesca Inkley and Sarah Goldberg report on a service evaluation to discover how staff support patients in these challenging situations

Patients with dementia and delirium in acute hospitals can exhibit verbal agitation, but there is no research on rate of occurrence or how ward staff manage such behaviour. This service evaluation aimed to measure rate of occurrence of verbal agitation in confused older inpatients and understand the management strategies used by staff.

An agitation inventory was completed daily by the nursing team for all verbally agitated patients on eight older person wards over two weeks. Six semi-structured interviews were conducted with staff and three hours of non-participant observations were undertaken.

A mean 6% (13/223) of patients were verbally agitated each day. Management strategies included trial and error, distraction and engagement, reassurance, communication and familiarity. Staff did not adopt a systematic approach to care planning due to lack of training and support on the ward, as well as scarce resources in terms of staff, space and activities.

Research is needed to develop and evaluate interventions that support staff to care for these patients.

Nursing Older People. 28, 2, 33-37. doi: 10.7748/nop.28.2.33.s22


Peer review

This article has been subject to double-blind review and checked using antiplagiarism software

Conflict of interest

None declared

Received: 29 July 2015

Accepted: 13 October 2015