Objectives: To estimate the agreement between nursing staff's recognition of dementia and results of MMSE assessment in a probability sample of non-specialist nursing home residents in South East England, and to identify correlates of disagreement.
Methods: Prospective survey. The most senior nurse on duty was interviewed about each resident sampled, and optionally about their own training and experience. Residents were interviewed using the MMSE, and assessed using the Cornell Scale for Depression in Dementia, the Barthel ADL index, and the Behave-AD scale for behavioural problems.
Results: 135 nurses were interviewed about 445 residents-116 reported on of the 291 residents scoring 23 or less on the MMSE-34% of these were acknowledged to have dementia. 46.4% of those with MMSE scores of 15 or less were acknowledged to have dementia. "Missed dementia" was associated with higher MMSE and lower Behave-AD scores, and inversely associated with RMN training and private home ownership for profit. It was not associated with training or duration of staff employment.
Conclusions: Most cognitive impairment in non-specialist nursing homes appeared to be unrecognised. This has implications for the prospects of good dementia care in these homes.
Copyright 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.