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Staff Approaches to Dementia in the ED

  • Research type

    Research Study

  • Full title

    Staff approaches to managing challenging behaviour associated with dementia in the Emergency Department



  • Contact name

    Sarah Voss

  • Contact email

  • Sponsor organisation

    University of the West of England

  • Duration of Study in the UK

    1 years, 0 months, 4 days

  • Research summary

    There are an estimated 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, and 1 in 3 people will develop dementia in their lifetime. In the UK in 2010 approximately 300,000 Emergency Department (ED) attendances were by people with dementia, accounting for 42% of unplanned admissions to an acute hospital.

    There is audit data to suggest that over a third of people with dementia attending an ED experience challenging behavioural symptoms, of which aggression is the most common. To manage this behaviour, patients are sometimes given anti-psychotics or manually restrained. However non-pharmacological strategies, such as use of family and reorientation, are often under-used. This approach to managing behaviour can be harmful and upsetting for the patients, family members and staff themselves.

    Despite the importance of dementia training recognised by Royal College of Emergency Medicine, there are no standardised processes for managing challenging behaviour exhibited by people with dementia in EDs, and the risk of aggression directed at emergency staff has unfortunately been normalised as part of the job.

    Although there is literature suggesting various approaches to managing challenging behaviour exhibited by people with dementia, there is little research on the effectiveness of such de-escalation techniques the ED setting. Therefore, this study aims to explore ED staff members’ experiences of managing challenging behaviour exhibited by patients with dementia. Staff will also be asked their views on current de-escalation techniques and what may work in the context of a busy ED environment.

    The findings will inform a Tier 3 RfPB application to develop a de-escalation intervention that can be used by ED staff to manage challenging behaviour associated with dementia. If this is successful, an application will be made to HS&DR to evaluate this intervention.

  • REC name


  • REC reference