Views from health professionals on accessing rehabilitation for people with dementia following a hip fracture

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Abstract

The literature reports that rehabilitation for elderly patients with mild-to-moderate dementia who have a hip fracture improves functional outcomes. However, access to rehabilitation may be difficult due to misconceptions about the ability of these patients to engage in and benefit from rehabilitation. Additionally, people who are admitted from residential care may not have the same options for rehabilitation as those admitted from home. This study sought to understand from expert clinicians how and why decisions are made to accept a person with dementia post-fracture for rehabilitation. In this Australian-based qualitative study, 12 health professionals across a state and territory were interviewed. These clinicians were the primary decision makers in accepting or rejecting elderly patients with dementia post-fracture into rehabilitation. Three key themes emerged from the data: criteria for accessing rehabilitation, what works well and challenges to rehabilitation. The participants were unanimous in the view that access to rehabilitation should be based on the ability of the patient to engage in a rehabilitation programme and not assessed solely on cognition. In terms of clinical care, a coherent rehabilitation pathway with integration of geriatric and ortho-geriatric services was reported as ideal. Challenges remain, importantly, the perception of some health care staff that people with dementia have limited capability to benefit from rehabilitation. Rehabilitation for this growing group of patients requires multiple resources, including skilled practitioners, integrated clinical systems and staff education regarding the capabilities of people with dementia. Future research in this area with patients with moderate-to-severe dementia in residential care is warranted.

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