Exploring temporality and its effect on communication between nursing staff and patients with dementia in acute hospital wards

Start Date: 25 Oct 2014 End Date: 1 Dec 2018

Communication practices with patients with dementia on acute hospital wards; a Qualitative Study

The problem

There has been a recent policy drive to improve the quality of dementia care in hospitals both in NHS hospitals and internationally. The research states that communication is at the heart of all aspects of quality dementia care and paramount to the nurse-patient relationship, however reports are continuing to reveal that hospitals are still failing in this area. The most identified barrier to communication between nursing staff and patients with dementia is time and this has continuously been accepted. In this economic climate where time is money and organisations are continuing to reduce staffing levels whilst expecting more out of nurses, it is important to understand how this is impacting on direct relational care. 

The solution

• Ethnographic study 
• Observations on the wards to develop field notes identifying temporal features and how this is affecting communication and relational care
• Interviews with nursing staff (nurses and health care support workers) to identify how temporal features are affecting them and in what ways they prioritise their time and why. 

Expected outcome

The study will identify what the temporal features are of the ward, how staff are managing their time, what their priorities are and how hospital organisations are influencing this. Through identifying this themes, work can be done to change the current attitude toward time schedules and rituals making it more conducive to providing quality relational care to patients with dementia. A greater understanding of the temporal features will also allow communication training to be more appropriate for the acute care settings and therefore more successful.

Emily Oliver