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Improvements in care for dementia patients

20/05/2013

 

Improvements are being made to the care that patients with dementia receive at the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

A new initiative called ‘my life’, which aims to ensure people with dementia get patient centred-care, is being introduced, awareness training is being rolled out to all clinical staff, a new screening tool has been introduced, dementia champions are being allocated to wards and physical improvements have been made to ward areas.

Tara Filby, deputy chief nurse at the Trust, said:

“It is so important that we constantly strive to improve the care we provide to patients with dementia. We know that in the future hospitals will see many more older patients admitted and we want to make sure we are at the forefront of the very best care for our older population.”

This week, May 19 to May 25, is dementia awareness week - the Alzheimer’s Society’s annual flagship campaign. ‘Worrying changes nothing - talking changes everything’ is the focus of the campaign for this year.

There are a number of events* being held across the local community where people can access help and advice, including at Grimsby Library and Grimsby Minster on Tuesday 21 May and at St Aidan’s church in Cleethorpes on Wednesday 22 May. The Alzheimer’s Society will also be holding an information stand at Scunthorpe General Hospital on Wednesday 22 May in the main foyer.

As part of the campaign they’ve identified five things that everyone should know about dementia:

  1. It’s not a natural part of ageing
  2. Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain
  3. It’s not just losing your memory
  4. It’s possible to live well with dementia
  5. There’s more to a person than dementia

My Life Tool

Throughout the week staff at the Trust will have the opportunity to learn about the ‘my life’ documentation which is a series of planning tools that can be used to develop meaningful plans that outline the person and family’s wishes.

Rachel Greenbeck, quality matron at the Trust and lead for dementia, said:

“For people diagnosed with dementia, it is essential that the care and support they receive is focused around them (person-centred care). By using ’my life’ it will ensure that care is based on the individual, their biography, preferences and an understanding of their abilities, enabling them to be as independent as possible and remain in control of decisions that affect their life.  It ensures a better understanding of the person and improves relationships and involvement with family and carers.”

Stroke Unit at Grimsby hospital enhanced

Being admitted to a hospital ward can be disorientating and frightening for someone with dementia and it may make them more confused and anxious than usual. They sometimes find the environment loud and unfamiliar, and they might not understand why they are there.

In an attempt to ease this, staff on the stroke unit at Grimsby’s Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital have looked at how they can help make the ward environment less confusing for dementia patients.

Thanks to a generous donation from the Grimsby Hospital League of Friends they’ve been able to make simple changes that will provide enhanced care for patients with dementia.

Deputy unit manager Charlie Fawn and advanced healthcare assistant Mandy Jenson volunteered to become dementia champions and underwent some training which was organised by Rachel Greenbeck, who leads on care for dementia patients.

Rachel said:

“Having a nominated member of staff from each ward who is interested and enthusiastic in the area of dementia helps enhance the team’s knowledge and skills and ultimately improve the care received by patients with dementia.”

Charlie said:

“After our training we realised there were some simple things we could do which would make a difference.”

Focusing on one bay they:

  • Used a colour to name the bay, as numbers can be confusing
  • Changed the patterned bedside curtains to plain ones
  • Used black toilet seats as it differentiates the seat from the white toilet bowl making it easier to see and use
  • Used clip frames to put messages on. Staff and visitors can write messages, reminders and details of when they will be visiting
  • Introduced ‘my life’ folders in which family members/carers can provide a snapshot of the person providing information on the patient’s needs, preferences, likes, dislikes and interests, their normal routines and whether they need support in washing, dressing, eating and drinking
  • A new dinner service and seating area for patients to sit and have their meals
  • Introduced a discreet sign to alert other members of staff to the fact the patient has dementia
  • Produced old photographs to display in the bay, together with a new clock which was easier to read.

Charlie said:

“The key is making sure staff know the patient has dementia and liaising with the family or carers to try to get as much information about that person as possible.

“We need to understand how the dementia affects that person’s behaviour and communication, and also simple things like how they prefer to be addressed, for example using their first name or surname.”

The duo initially focused on one bay on the unit but the changes have proved so successful they approached the Grimsby Hospital League of Friends for additional funding. The League has kindly agreed to donate £7,500 to adapt the rest of the unit.

Rachel added:

“Providing high quality services for patients with dementia is one of the key things I am focusing on across the organisation. We know that a hospital admission can be stressful for patients, particularly those with dementia, so our aim is to try to reduce this as much as we can.”

Dementia champions across the Trust are being encouraged to make simple changes within their own areas, where possible.

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