Students reported that nurses "saw the disease", rather than the patient, resulting in treatment without dignity and difficulties with basic care such as nutrition.
The nursing students determined that the cultural and physical habitats of the hospitals were not equipped to care for people with dementia.
Students believe a reason for lack of understanding of patients' needs was caused by the urgency to move them through the medical system quickly, also compromising their dignity.
The staff additionally had trouble with basic care such as nutrition, with nurses saying they felt "out of their depth" when attempting to provide care to dementia patients. The nursing students also felt a lack of guidance from the staff.
Published in the journal Nursing Older People, Leslie Baillie, Janet Cox and Jane Merritt of the University of Bedfordshire said their students commented:
"Some hospital staff were unable to see beyond the person's dementia and spending time with patients clashed with an organizational culture where speed, acute care needs and physical treatment took priority."
Students also described the following problems seen with dementia patients:
- Patients unable to walk freely and safely in the hospital.
- Critical busy wards were too scary for dementia patients to deal with.
- Workers struggled to provide appropriate amounts of food and drink to dementia patients.
- Some dementia patients were left until last at mealtimes.