UEA researchers find care guidance for dementia patients who suffer fractures is ‘sadly lacking’

University of East Anglia UEA . Steve Adams

University of East Anglia UEA . Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

Medical guidance on how to care for elderly people with dementia following a hip fracture is 'sadly lacking', UEA researchers have claimed.

Almost half of all people who suffer hip fractures also have dementia, but a report published today reveals there is no conclusive evidence on how to care for this particularly vulnerable group.

The review, which was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), highlights an urgent need for better research into what strategies improve post-operative care – both within hospital settings and in the community.

Data was taken from five clinical trials involving 316 dementia patients who had suffered a hip fracture.

Lead researcher Chris Fox, from UEA's Norwich Medical School, said: 'We reviewed all the evidence that currently exists, but found it to be sadly lacking. For example, none of these trials told us anything about quality of life.

'What this tells us is that there is still a lot of uncertainty about how to care for a common co-morbidity [the presence of one or more additional disorders] in elderly people.

'To care for this group of people, we need to know much more about frequency and duration of physiotherapy, whether familiarised routines and assistive technologies help, and whether patients are better off in hospital, in a care home, or being cared for in their own home. We also need to know how factors such as age and stage of dementia affect the outcome of different management strategies.'

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Hip fractures account for 1.8 million bed days in UK hospitals and around £1.9bn in hospital costs alone, excluding the high cost of social care, according to researchers.

Dr Fox said that people with dementia found it more difficult to recover from hip fractures.

'Their recovery is slower and they are more prone to complications,' added Dr Fox. 'These patients are also associated with the greatest increase in care costs.

'The real problem is that NHS staff lack the evidence to provide the best care.'

'Enhanced rehabilitation and care models for adults with dementia following hip fracture surgery' is published today.

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