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Dementia is a progressive and irreversible condition that affects a person’s memory, thinking, behavior, and ability to perform daily activities. The care of individuals with dementia requires specialized knowledge and skills to ensure their safety, well-being, and quality of life. One of the most challenging aspects of dementia care emergency placement, where a person with dementia needs to be admitted to a hospital or long-term care facility due to a sudden change in their condition. In this article, we will discuss the best practices for emergency placement for dementia patients based on the Dementia Care Practice Recommendations[1] and other relevant resources.

Understanding Dementia Behaviors

The first step in providing quality emergency placement for dementia patients is to understand their behaviors. People with dementia may exhibit challenging behaviors, such as agitation, aggression, wandering, or resistance to care, due to various factors such as pain, discomfort, fear, or confusion. These behaviors can be distressing for both the person with dementia and their caregivers and may lead to increased risk of falls, injuries, and hospitalization. Therefore, it is essential to assess and manage dementia behaviors effectively using evidence-based interventions, such as environmental modifications, communication strategies, sensory stimulation, and pharmacological treatments, as needed.

Planning for Emergency Placement

Emergency placement for dementia patients can be stressful and overwhelming for everyone involved. However, proper planning can help reduce the risks and ensure a smoother transition. The Dementia Care Practice Recommendations suggest several best practices for emergency placement planning, including:

Identifying a Primary Caregiver

Having a primary caregiver who knows the person with dementia well and can provide essential information about their medical history, medications, and preferences is crucial for emergency placement. The primary caregiver can also help prepare the person for the transfer and provide emotional support during the hospitalization.

Communicating with the Care Team

Effective communication between the primary caregiver, the hospital staff, and the long-term care facility staff is essential for ensuring that the person with dementia receives appropriate care and support. The primary caregiver should provide the care team with a detailed care plan, including the person’s medical history, medications, allergies, and behavioral triggers. The care team should also inform the primary caregiver about the person’s condition, treatment, and discharge plan.

Addressing Behavioral Issues

Behavioral issues can be challenging to manage during emergency placement. The care team should assess the person’s behavior and provide appropriate interventions, such as environmental modifications, communication strategies, and psychotropic medications, as needed. The care team should also involve the primary caregiver in the decision-making process and provide them with education and support to manage the person’s behavior effectively.

Choosing a Care Setting

Choosing the right care setting for emergency placement depends on several factors, such as the person’s medical condition, behavioral issues, and preferences, as well as the availability and accessibility of the care options. The Dementia Care Practice Recommendations suggest that the ideal care setting for emergency placement is a dementia-capable hospital or a long-term care facility that provides person-centered care, staff training in dementia care, and family involvement.

Dementia-Capable Hospital

A dementia-capable hospital is a healthcare facility that has specialized knowledge and skills in dementia care and provides an environment that minimizes confusion, agitation, and other behavioral issues. A dementia-capable hospital should have the following features: