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New video shines light on Delirium


Mar 23, 2018

Medics from QE Gateshead have created a new video to help patients and families spot a common, but often misunderstood medical condition.

Although Delirium can be fairly common most people are totally unaware of the condition, so the mental health team from Gateshead have made a new video to help raise awareness.

World delirium awareness day takes place this week (14th March) and the new video has been posted on YouTube to support patients and families in Gateshead.  Delirium can affect men or women of any age but is more common among older people or those with dementia.

It can be very frightening for patients and families because it involves a decreased ability to concentrate, sleepiness, agitation, and sometimes hallucinations or altered beliefs. International figures show that 1 in 4 older hospital patients will get delirium and it is hoped the new video will offer some much needed advice and information for local people.

Although delirium has some of the similar symptoms to dementia it isn’t the same thing. Delirium comes on quickly and usually resolves over days, whereas dementia develops slowly over many months and mostly cannot be reversed.

If you’re concerned that a family member may have delirium you should seek medical help promptly because it can be a sign of acute, serious illness and the new video offers some priceless advice. It helps the public spot the signs of delirium, understand more about the condition and provides some helpful advice on what they should do.

Dr Annie Fetherston, a psychiatrist at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust said: “We thought this would be a really good way to engage with people who may be worried about a relative or friend because they can access the information in an easy way from home or using their smartphone.

“Delirium can see people become confused, agitated and unwell which is obviously very frightening. They can see or hear things that aren’t there and there are several different causes. It’s often confused with dementia which is even more upsetting for patients and their families so we hope this new video will be a useful tool for them and for us as healthcare professionals.”

Dr Catherine Kirkley, Consultant Old Age Liaison Psychiatrist said: “Delirium is something we encounter frequently in hospital. Typically, a relative or carer will notice that the person has become confused over the space of a day or two, they may be sleepy or agitated and have difficulty concentrating.

“Hallucinations are common and can be very distressing and frightening for both patients and carers alike. Most of all people worry that their relative will not return to their usual self. It’s important to say that delirium is different from dementia. Delirium comes on quickly and usually resolves over days whereas dementia develops slowly over many months and mostly cannot be reversed.

“If you’re concerned that a family member may have delirium then this video will be really helpful in understanding what you can do to spot the signs.”

You can see the video on the hospital website https://www.qegateshead.nhs.uk/Delirium or on YouTube here


By Emily