Delirium is a common, preventable condition. However, delirium is poorly recognised and often missed because symptoms are misinterpreted, and risk factors overlooked by health-care professionals. Carers usually have intimate knowledge about the person they care for. Therefore, they are well placed within care teams to implement delirium prevention strategies, identify symptoms and support the early diagnosis of delirium. The aim of this integrative review was to synthesise findings from the published research reporting on partnering with carers in the management of delirium in general acute care settings.
Five databases (Medline-EBSCO, PubMed, PsycINFO, ProQuest, CINAHL and SCOPUS) were searched to identify primary research regarding partnering with carers in the management of delirium in acute care settings, and results were synthesised. PRISMA guidelines were adhered to, and quality appraisal was conducted using the Mixed Methods Appraisal Tool.
All seven studies reported that partnering with carers was a viable strategy in the management of delirium to maximise outcomes for people at risk of or experiencing delirium and that increasing carers’ knowledge of delirium was key. The synthesis of findings also identified two themes: Increasing knowledge and Effective partnerships.
A collaborative approach to increasing carers’ and nurses’ knowledge about the management of delirium, coupled with education on how to develop therapeutic nurse–carer relationships, is important for ongoing effective partnerships in the management of delirium. Good communication supported effective partnerships, which enabled both nurses and carers the opportunity to express their needs and concerns and negotiate collaborative involvement in the management of delirium.