Think delirium. Improving the care for older people : delirium toolkit

Healthcare Improvement Scotland
Healthcare Improvement Scotland
Publication date:
15 May 2014


Delirium is a state of mental confusion which can be caused by illness, surgery and medications. It often starts suddenly, but usually lifts when the condition causing it gets better. It can be frightening for the person who is unwell and for those around them. It is a recognised problem in older people that is frequently overlooked or misdiagnosed and is very distressing to individuals and to their families and carers.

Those who develop delirium may

  • need to stay longer in hospital or in critical care
  • have more hospital-acquired complications, such as falls and pressure ulcers
  • be more likely to be admitted to long term care if they are in hospital
  • are more likely to die.