Raising awareness of delirium at GV Health

By Tara Whitsed

A new delirium screening tool was launched at Goulburn Valley Health, coinciding with World Delirium Awareness Day on Wednesday, March 11.

GV Health clinical liaison nurse Elise Lorenz said her role involved the management of patients displaying behaviours outside the norm, which included delirium.

She said she and several other staff at GV Health made up a team dedicated to improving the care of those with delirium, which is a usually temporary change in the brain that causes confusion and emotional disruption.

“We used World Delirium Awareness Day to launch a screening tool and raise awareness,” she said.

Staff in GV Health’s medical ward and Mary Coram Unit were treated to scones from the delirium team.

“We’re bringing awareness to delirium so that staff can be alert to recognise and respond to delirium,” she said.

Ms Lorenz said she was particularly passionate about delirium, as she had had her own experience following surgery.

“It can be a scary experience,” she said.

She said there were endless causes as to why patients experienced delirium, but she encouraged family and friends to ask, "are they different today?” when visiting patients.

“If the answer is yes then you need to speak to staff immediately,” Ms Lorenz said.

Goulburn Valley Area Mental Health Services divisional clinical director and GV Health delirium group leader Ravi Bhat explained delirium was common in hospitals.

“Delirium is not benign,” he said.

“Patients who are suffering from delirium have a higher risk of dying and increased length of stay in hospitals.

“They are more likely to develop pressure sores, to fall and are more likely to be institutionalised.”