Safety and Quality > Our Work > Safe and high-quality care for patients with cognitive impairment

Cognitive impairment (dementia and delirium) is common among older people admitted to hospital. These patients are at greater risk of preventable complications, and adverse outcomes, including falls, pressure injuries, functional decline and mortality. They are more likely to stay in hospital longer, be re-admitted or enter residential care.

Cognitive impairment is currently under-recognised in Australian hospitals, leading to significant safety and quality issues. However, harm can be minimised if cognitive impairment is recognised and care is tailored to the needs of the patient.

In 2013 the Commission undertook a project to use the National Safety and Quality Health Service (NSQHS) Standards and other mechanisms to provide the basis for nationally coordinated improvement in the care of patients with cognitive impairment in acute care. The Department of Social Services provided funding for this project as part of changes in aged care and specifically through funding targeted to improve the care of people with dementia in acute care. The outcomes of this project have informed the Commission’s Cognitive Impairment Program.

The Cognitive Impairment Program has four projects which relate to the safety and quality of care for people with a cognitive impairment in hospital:

There are three main areas of work:

  1. A Better Way to Care resources to guide services in improving care of people with cognitive impairment within the context of the NSQHS Standards.
  2. Informing the development of a Clinical Care Standard for Delirium due in 2016.
  3. Making recommendations for strengthening the current NSQHS Standards as part of the Commission’s review process.


A better way to care

A Better Way to Care: safe and high-quality care for patients with cognitive impairment (dementia and delirium) in hospital

The Commission has developed three resources targeting health service managers, clinicians and consumers.

Program overview

An overview of the policy context, program background and current work by the Commission to improve the safety and quality of care for patients with cognitive impairment.