Delirium is a serious medical condition which can cause disturbed thinking and behaviour and fluctuating consciousness. People experiencing delirium have a higher risk of death while in hospital, and many have ongoing problems with thinking and memory after they leave. Delirium is difficult to treat, so prevention is key. Research indicates that between 30-40 per cent of delirium that occurs in hospital can be prevented.
The delirium prevention project led by Austin Health involves working with patients, families and carers to develop a model of care to improve identification of delirium and provide consistent planning and delivery of preventative care for at-risk patients, to stop delirium before it happens.
As part of this model, clinical delirium leads will work with point of care staff to ensure at risk patients are assessed daily for delirium and that they have an individualised delirium prevention plan. These plans will be focused on delivering evidence-based delirium prevention strategies. A delirium-specific volunteer program will also be developed as part of the project, to provide extra support for people at risk of delirium.