Dementia patients cost an average of $7720 per visit

DEMENTIA patients are costing New South Wales hospitals more and staying longer than other patients, an Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report showed on Thursday.

The report revealed it cost NSW public hospitals more than $2000 extra to care for people with dementia than other patients for each hospital visit.

It showed people with dementia cost public hospitals an average of $7720 for each visit, compared with $5010 for other patients.

Public hospitals also had to foot a total bill of $462.9 million to care for people with dementia, of which about 35% - or $162.5 million - could be associated with dementia.

AIHW director and chief executive David Kalisch said providing care for dementia patients in a busy hospital was often challenging due to their complex needs.

There were 21,000 people with dementia who stayed at least one night in a NSW hospital recorded in the study.

But Mr Kalisch said this figure could be lower than the real numbers of dementia patients being treated in the state's public hospitals.

"Identification and reporting of dementia is often poor in hospitals. For almost half of the episodes for people with dementia in this study, dementia was not recorded as either a principal or additional diagnosis," he said.

The report also identified some strategies which could improve care for people with dementia and reduce care costs.

"Our review suggests that the greatest potential benefits to patients lie in a combined approach by hospital, mental health, residential aged care and community services," Mr Kalisch said.

He said things like staff training, better discharge planning and dementia-friendly ward changes would help reduce the amount of time dementia patients had to stay in hospital.

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