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What is Delirium?

Delirium is a distressing condition that is common among patients in hospitals, palliative care and long-term care settings. People with delirium become confused, disorientated and experience problems with language, memory and perception. They may become restless and agitated or withdrawn and sleepy. Typically, an episode of delirium comes on rapidly, over a few hours or days. Delirium can cause great distress to patients, their families and friends, and carers. It is associated with increased chance of being admitted to hospital or transferred to a care home, falls, and higher mortality. There are many risk factors for delirium including dehydration, malnutrition, sleep deprivation, use of psychoactive drugs or multiple medications. Interventions that target these risk factors can help to prevent delirium. In hospital, these interventions have been shown to reduce rates of delirium by a third.

Two areas that are under-researched are delirium in palliative care and delirium in care homes.  Our main research focus is to develop and test interventions to improve care of delirium in hospices and palliative care units, as well as hospitals and care homes, with an emphasis on non-pharmacological interventions. Click this link to watch a video on 'What is delirium?'

World Delirium Awareness Day, 2019