A grant of almost $200,000 from the Dementia Collaborative Research Centres (DCRCs) will fund a Deakin School of Nursing and Midwifery study that aims to improve the hospital experience of patients with neurocognitive disorders, such as dementia and delirium.
The project, “Reducing harm, in the acute hospital setting, to people displaying symptoms associated with a neurocognitive disorder,” aims to co-produce a knowledge translation strategy to promote acute care nurses’ use of best practice.
Chief Investigator Professor Alison Hutchinson explained that previous research showed that patients with neurocognitive disorders are more at risk of preventable harm, from causes such as falls or medication errors, compared to other patients.
The team will work with nurses and consumer representatives to develop a strategy, including an app, that will provide clinicians with ready access to information that will help them to manage patients with behaviours such as confusion and aggression.
“There are existing guidelines to help staff care for patients displaying this sort of behaviour, but this project is about promoting access to the guidelines and recommendations so that nurses at the bedside can access it when they need it,” Prof Hutchinson said.
“The app is part of our knowledge translation strategy to engage and support clinicians in ‘real time’ with complex day-to-day decision making when working with patients presenting with these symptoms.
“Our goal is to increase adoption of best practice recommendations to address behavioural and psychological symptoms displayed by patients with neurocognitive disorders.”
Project outcomes to be measured include nurses’ perceptions of the acceptability and feasibility of the app, barriers and facilitators to implementation, use of best practice to address behavioural and psychological symptoms, nurses’ knowledge, and incidence of common preventable harms.
The outcomes will then inform a multi-site randomised trial to test the effectiveness of the strategy.
“We need to address the interrelated nature of behavioural and psychological symptoms and common preventable harms and ensure the optimal combination of interventions for an individual are in place when required,” Prof Hutchinson said.
“Co-design of knowledge translation strategies with end users can potentially help address the complex barriers to translation of best available evidence into practice.”
Deakin researchers working on the project with Prof Hutchinson are Assoc Prof Bernice Redley, Prof Tracey Bucknall, Dr Helen Rawson and Dr Emily Tomlinson, from the School of Nursing and Midwifery and the Centre for Quality and Patient Safety (QPS), and Dr Ben Richardson from the School of Psychology. Adjunct Professor Cheyne Chalmers from Monash Health and Professor Don Campbell from Monash Health and Monash University are co-investigators on the study.
Applications for the funding were required to align with the National Health and Medical Research Council’s National Institute of Dementia Research priorities. Almost 30 researchers, clinicians and consumers involved in dementia assessed more than 200 applications from public and private institutions across Australia.
“This is a fantastic outcome for Professor Hutchinson and her team, not least because the DCRCs received many more high quality applications than they were able to fund,” said Deakin’s Professor Brendan Crotty, Executive Dean Faculty of Health.
Deakin researchers Dr Gery Karantzas and Prof David Mellor of the University’s School of Psychology were also successful in receiving a $190,000 grant as co-investigators on the project, “Consumer Directed Care in Residential Aged Care: Implementation and Evaluation of the Resident at Centre of Care (RCC) program,” led by Prof Marita McCabe of Australian Catholic University.
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