Groundbreaking PREDICT tool boosts caregiver knowledge on delirium


A groundbreaking pilot study has unveiled an online toolkit designed to equip caregivers with essential knowledge and tools to identify and manage delirium, a state of sudden confusion often experienced by older individuals.

Led by a collaborative effort involving Southern Cross University, the University of the Sunshine Coast, the University of Saskatchewan (Canada), the University of Canberra and the Northern NSW Local Health District, the research showcased the effectiveness of the PREDICT (Prevention and Early Delirium Identification Caregiver Toolkit) in enhancing caregivers’ understanding of delirium.

Delirium, characterised by abrupt changes in mental function, is a distressing experience for both the individuals affected and their caregivers. Often triggered by acute medical conditions like UTIs or pneumonia, delirium can be mistaken for dementia due to similar symptoms of confusion and agitation. However, unlike dementia, delirium develops rapidly and is potentially reversible.

Dr Christina Aggar, Associate Professor of Nursing at Southern Cross University, emphasised the importance of empowering caregivers in recognising and addressing delirium. “Delirium is the number one hospital-acquired complication in Australia, costing our health care system more than a billion dollars a year,” she said. “The emotional and financial toll to the patient and the caregiver is also extremely significant.”

The PREDICT toolkit, accessible via QR code or hard copy, provides an interactive assessment tool enabling caregivers to assess the risk of delirium and access valuable information to support their well-being. Dr Aggar highlighted the toolkit’s role in fostering collaboration between caregivers and healthcare professionals in delirium prevention and management.

Dr Alison Craswell from the University of the Sunshine Coast emphasised the toolkit’s robustness, thanks to collaboration with experts and individuals with lived experience in caregiving. “This project has brought together a team of experts working with lived experience consumers, who have all cared for others, to make sure the toolkit is fit for purpose,” she said.

Dr. Kasia Bail, Professor of Gerontological Nursing at the University of Canberra, underscored the transformative impact of the toolkit on caregivers’ knowledge and engagement in delirium prevention. “In this research pilot, in addition to the earlier work we’ve been conducting with Professor Aggar’s team, we found that caregiver knowledge about delirium increased, and that caregivers wanted to be involved in delirium prevention and management,” she emphasised.

Through its user-friendly interface and comprehensive resources, the PREDICT toolkit aims to empower caregivers and improve outcomes for individuals experiencing delirium, ultimately reducing healthcare costs and enhancing the quality of care.

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Ritchelle is a Content Producer for Healthcare Channel, Australia’s premier resource of information for healthcare.

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