Reviews in Clinical Gerontology

Intermediate Care & Rehabilitation

Delirium in care homes

Najma Siddiqia1 c1, Andrew Clegga2 and John Younga2

a1 Academic Unit of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences, Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, University of Leeds

a2 Academic Unit of Elderly Care and Rehabilitation, Leeds Institute of Health Sciences, University of Leeds


Delirium is a distressing but preventable condition associated with increased morbidity and mortality, and significant financial costs. Most research on delirium has focused on high-risk patients in hospitals. Another group also at high risk are residents in care homes for older people. This report reviews the literature on the occurrence, aetiology, outcomes, prevention and treatment of delirium in long-term care. Delirium appears to be common in this setting, with a median point prevalence estimate of 14.2% in studies comparable to the UK. However, there is a paucity of high-quality studies, likely to reflect the difficulty in conducting research in this population and the particular challenges of investigating delirium. Addressing delirium successfully in care homes presents an opportunity to improve care standards and to reduce inequalities in health and social care. Well-designed prospective cohort studies and robust evaluations of interventions to prevent and treat delirium are needed.


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr Najma Siddiqi, Meridian House, Bradford Road, Keighley BD21 4AD. Email: