Government’s dementia tsar to visit Bradford Royal Infirmary to see largest refurbishment project undertaken of its kind in the UK.
Staff and patients take time out in ward 29's new cafe which was developed under the Foundation Trust's Enhancing the Healing Environment project
The government’s dementia tsar is set to visit Bradford Royal Infirmary tomorrow (Tuesday, March 6) to see the largest refurbishment project of its kind undertaken to improve the hospital environment for elderly patients suffering from the disease in the UK.
The national Clinical Director for Dementia for England at the Department of Health, Professor Alistair Burns, will visit wards 23 and 29 which were revamped under the Foundation Trust’s Enhancing the Healing Environment project.
Head of nursing for medicine, Dawn Parkes, said: “We are delighted to be able to welcome Professor Burns to Bradford Teaching Hospitals and to show him the incredible investment that the Foundation Trust has made towards its elderly patients with dementia.
“Visitors and patients remark about the ‘wow’ factor that greets you when you enter the wards – they have been truly transformed into what we believe is a unique healing atmosphere.
“To be recognised by the Department of Health for this landmark dementia project demonstrates that Bradford is leading the way in the re-design of acute hospital wards for the benefit of the growing number of patients up and down the country who are diagnosed with this condition.”
The initiative, which was unveiled last September, saw the Foundation Trust invest more than £450,000, with a further £50,000 coming from The King’s Fund, towards upgrading hospital facilities to create a more calming space to influence patient behaviour and improve the wards for both patients, visitors and their families.
This was achieved by providing special memory boxes by each bed, into which patients place a personal object they can remember. The glass boxes also help patients find their way back to their beds, as well as doubling up as a visual aid to nostalgia.
An activity table with games and nostalgic aids was placed on ward 23 while a reminiscence café, run by the Foundation Trust’s volunteers, opens daily where patients can sit with their family in comfortable and colourful surroundings and use the many objects to recollect memories.
In addition, large Kodak-style slide frames, backlit with LED lighting, feature images from the Yorkshire Film Archive which include bygone scenes such as families at the seaside and well-known Bradford landmarks. While films like those from the ‘Carry On’ series are played on a wall opposite specially-installed cinema seats.
Dawn added: “In just six months since the new wards were unveiled we have seen immediate improvements including a reduction in the rates of falls, patients are less agitated and complaints from relatives have fallen.
“In the past, our patients used to wander up and down the wards aimlessly – which is a common theme among those suffering from dementia when placed in an unfamiliar environment – yet now they sit more attentively on the cinema seats that we have installed in the corridors, some of which are opposite film projectors.
"Patients are also much more orientated and there is increased interaction with hospital staff, who, in turn, are now better able to engage patients in meaningful conversations – for example, talk about the contents of their memory boxes and the patients experiences and lives.”
In April, ward 30’s (elderly care) corridor will be injected with colour and will form a mirror image of ward 29 with the addition of cinema seats, films projected on walls and lightboxes showing pictures of bygone days thanks to a £19,000 donation from the Friends of the Bradford Royal Infirmary.
Throughout 2012 - 2013 there will also be extensive dementia training with nursing staff representing all areas of the Foundation Trust which will see each ward with a dementia champion.
Chief Nurse Sally Napper said: “The nature of how we care for vulnerable dementia patients in a society with an ageing population is a key priority for Bradford Teaching Hospitals and the Enhancing the Healing Environment project has acted as a real catalyst to engage all of our staff, especially those from senior ward management like matrons and sisters.
“Our dementia champions will play a key role in educating all our staff in playing an important part in supporting patients with the condition and their carers, given that for many sufferers a stay in hospital can often be a disorientating and unsettling time.”
The Foundation Trust currently has four different dementia work streams which aim to improve:
• the care and assessment of this
• communication with carers
• the hospital environment
• staff education and awareness
New dementia-friendly clocks with the date, time and year are also being purchased for every ward in a bid to help dementia patients’ orientation during their hospital stays.
In the coming months, all patient toilet signs will be replaced with dementia-friendly signage to aid sufferers’ independence and all toilet seats in inpatient areas are being changed to navy blue in an effort to help dementia patients recognise toilet facilities.