People with dementia frequently develop dysphagia (swallowing impairment), which causes them to be at high risk of aspiration pneumonia, resulting in hospital admissions. These individuals are advised against alternative nutrition and hydration as this does not eliminate the risk of developing chest infections. The purpose of this study was to establish the impact on length of stay by having a protocol to guide eating and drinking despite aspiration risks (risk feeding). A risk-feeding protocol was developed and implemented in a hospital setting. The quality improvement methodology of Plan-Do-Study-Act (PDSA) was employed to evaluate the impact of a protocol on the length of stay in patients with dementia and aspiration pneumonia. Annual audits (2016–2018) on the time taken from admission to when a route of nutrition was established were conducted, with adaptations made to the protocol. There was a reduction in nutrition planning times with each year. On closer evaluation of the data, improved nutrition planning times for this cohort impacted on a shorter length of stay. Having a model of care in place to guide feeding decisions in dementia coordinates care, as demonstrated in timely decision-making. For patients who are admitted with aspiration pneumonia and dementia, a decreased length of stay is evident.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited