Educating staff working in long-term care about delirium: the Trojan horse for improving quality of care?

J Psychosom Res. 2008 Sep;65(3):261-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2008.05.014.


Objective: This study aimed to design a multicomponent intervention to improve delirium care in long-term care facilities for older people in the UK and to identify the levers and barriers to its implementation in practice.

Methods: The research incorporated the theoretical phase and Phase 1 of the Medical Research Council's framework. We designed a multicomponent intervention based on the evidence for effective interventions for delirium and for changing practice. We refined the intervention with input from care home staff and field visits to homes. Our intervention incorporated the following features: targeting risk factors for delirium, a 'delirium practitioner' functioning as a facilitator, an education package for care home staff, staff working groups at each home to identify barriers to improving delirium care and to produce tailored solutions, a local champion identified from the working groups, consultation, liaison with other professionals, and audit or feedback. The delirium practitioner recorded her experiences of delivering the intervention in a contemporaneous log. This was analysed using framework analysis to determine the levers and barriers to implementation.

Results: We introduced a multicomponent intervention for delirium in six care homes in Leeds. Levers to implementation included flexibility, tailoring training to staff needs, engendering pride and ownership amongst staff, and minimising extra work. Barriers included time constraints, poor organization, and communication problems.

Conclusion: We were able to design and deliver an evidence-based multicomponent intervention for delirium that was acceptable to staff. The next steps are to establish its feasibility and effectiveness in modifying outcomes for residents of care homes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Delirium / physiopathology*
  • Delirium / psychology*
  • Health Education*
  • Health Personnel / education*
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Care*
  • Quality of Health Care / standards*