Caring for Cognitive Impairment

The Caring for Cognitive Impairment campaign was launched in January 2016 and ran until June 2019 to help hospitals prepare for the new cognitive impairment items in the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards (second edition). The campaign was about providing better outcomes and experiences for patients with cognitive impairment in hospitals, and for their loved ones and staff who care for them. By improving our knowledge and care practices, we can reduce the risk of harm in hospitals. In recognition of cognitive impairment, the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has included specific items in the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards (second edition) and Clinical Care Standards.

Who joined the campaign?

The campaign was a call for action to unite everyone who cares for people with cognitive impairment. The Commission sought the commitment of hospital Chief Executives and listed hospitals who signed up to the campaign on the website. The website also enabled individuals to commit to the campaign. Individual commitment certificates listed simple, straight-forward steps tailored to the person’s role.

The most important first step for everyone is to learn about delirium, dementia and other forms of cognitive impairment. Key organisations also joined as supporters to promote the importance of the campaign and are listed on the supporters page. This was an opportunity to share success stories and helpful tips to address the challenges faced in implementing change. If your organisation would like to contribute please share your story here.

Everyone has access to resources, webinars and regular newsletters. By joining the campaign, hospitals were able to get a head start on meeting the cognitive impairment items included in the NSQHS Standards (second edition) released in 2017. Assessment to NSQHS Standards (second edition) commenced in January 2019. Many hospitals already have initiatives in place to improve the recognition and care of people of cognitive impairment. This campaign did not replace or duplicate local action. Rather, it built on existing programs and projects to provide a platform for collaboration and sharing of good practice – read stories.

Additional work of the Commission includes:

  1. The Delirium Clinical Care Standard
    This outlines the key components of clinical care for patients with suspected delirium and patients at risk of developing delirium in hospital. It is accompanied by a set of indicators to support clinical teams and health services to identify and address areas that require improvement at a local level.
  2. The NSQHS Standards (second edition) include specific items addressing cognitive impairment. These Standards are designed to protect the public from harm and to improve the quality of health service provision. All hospitals and day procedure services and the majority of public dental services across Australia need to be assessed to the NSQHS Standards (second edition) from January 2019. A Cognitive Impairment Advisory Group was established to provide advice, expertise and support to the Commission’s Cognitive Impairment Program. The group also provided leadership and advice on the implementation of the Caring for Cognitive Impairment campaign. The Advisory Group ran until mid-2019. A new Cognitive Impairment Advisory Group will be established in the second half of 2019 to provide advice to the continuing work of the Cognitive Impairment Program, including expert advice on supporting health service organisations to implement the actions in the NSQHS Standards relating to cognitive impairment.