AIM AND OBJECTIVES: To explore what is meaningful to caregivers in relation to a dementia-friendly environment during hospitalisation of their loved ones with dementia or cognitive impairment.
BACKGROUND: Implementation of dementia-friendly initiatives and person-centred care approach have shaped the political agenda within Danish society. Patients with dementia or cognitive impairment and their accompanying caregivers are challenged when admitted to hospital. During hospitalisation, caregivers find themselves in a vulnerable state of mind. Thus, the implementation of a dementia-friendly environment and adherence to person-centred care in hospital settings leaves room for improvement.
METHODS: This study was guided by a qualitative and explorative approach. Data were collected through 17 semi-structured interviews with caregivers at a subacute neurological ward. Thematic analysis was employed to interpret data. The study reports according to the COREQ checklist.
RESULTS: The following three themes were identified: 1) Being a watchful bystander. 2) Visiting an undefined and foreign environment. 3) Longing for kindness.
CONCLUSION: Hospitality expressed by staff towards caregivers is significant in allowing caregivers to experience hospital environments as "friendly." Dementia-friendly environments embrace existential aspects that go far beyond physical spaces; hence, experiences of kind acts shape caregivers' sense of safety and comfort during hospitalisation. Hospitality is an essential part of nursing in dementia care because caregivers are contextually vulnerable. Our study sheds new light on the provision of person-centred care to people with dementia and their families in healthcare.
RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Nurses need to be aware that caregivers experience vulnerability and to involve caregivers in the care provided for patients with dementia. We recommend that a permanent contact person be appointed to follow patients throughout their admission period. Furthermore, systematic interventions focusing on phenomena such as hospitality and kindness may serve to form a person-centred clinical culture; an issue that warrants further investigation.