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A ground-breaking scheme - believed to be the first of its kind in the country “ to redesign the whole of a hospital's public area for people with dementia has opened in Bradford today (May 16).

The revolutionary scheme at St Luke's Hospital was made possible thanks to a £513,000 Department of Health grant and was unveiled by Marlene Aveyard, a member of the scheme's project board.

Marlene was diagnosed with Alzheimer's five years ago, aged just 58, and is the third generation of her family to suffer from the condition.

She said: 

"It has been a very emotional and humbling journey officially opening the revamped hospital today. I was born at St Luke's and my grandmother died here of Alzheimer's all those years ago and since then, the care of dementia patients has come so far. Even in the last five years, since my diagnosis, the change has been so fast and rapid that care has been totally transformed for the better."
"It's very daunting going to outpatients appointments, you don't know where you are going and it is all very clinical, but the renovations have made the environment so much more calming and visually the changes will help me a great deal as they used vibrant colours and improved signage. The new St Luke's is going to make such a difference to people's lives and their experiences of hospital."

Today artworks, colour, and light permeate the redesigned Horton Wing building.

Two dementia-friendly gardens have also been created where people can sit and recuperate.

A major part of the refurbishment involved introducing new signage and art, designed by patients, staff voluntary groups and the public at community events, to support way-finding and encourage orientation for people living with dementia, cognitive impairments or those who have problems communicating. These visual aids help patients to move around the hospital more easily.

Dementia project manager, Dani Woods said: 

"It's estimated that 25 per cent of people in hospital have some degree of dementia and the unfamiliar surroundings and bustle of a busy ward can be very disorientating for them. As a result they can become distressed, anxious or agitated."
"There is increasing evidence that the physical environment within which we deliver care has a major impact on the outcomes of care for dementia patients, the experience of care for them and their carers."
"Our new public areas have been carefully designed to ensure they create a comfortable and relaxing setting for people suffering with dementia-related illnesses.
""Today, as well as feeling calm and joyful, the spaces have been carefully designed to aid orientation, through clear sight lines and visual markers."

Other improvements include a new dementia-friendly help desk and new public toilets, along with places where people can sit and rest.

The Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) area has been revamped and equipment has been removed from corridors and entrances to make them clutter-free.

Chief nurse, Juliette Greenwood, said the Foundation Trust's efforts in transforming the hospital environment for patients with dementia have been recognised nationally1 “ and indeed further afield “ and the latest scheme was another ˜feather in the cap' for the city's efforts to become designated ˜dementia-friendly'.

She added: 

"Bradford has a growing reputation for its commitment and focus on dementia care and our ever-increasing redesigned hospital spaces demonstrate our contribution which is really important on all sorts of levels; from how we recruit and train our staff, to the healing environment that we create for our patients and carers."
"The hospital setting is increasingly recognised as having a positive impact on patients and we are really pleased to be spearheading this desire to deliver the very best care.
"We know that for many people, coming into hospital can be a scary and disorientating experience. Hospitals are very complex places, particularly for patients with dementia whose anxiety is often increased by unfamiliar surroundings and the heightened sensory challenges associated with a busy hospital. Projects like this aim to raise awareness and understanding “ both within and beyond the project teams “ of the therapeutic value of good design and we are committed to doing everything we can, to reduce patients' anxieties, which is why this work at St Luke's is such an important opportunity for us."

The nine-month transformation scheme was given the theme of ˜Yorkshire At Its Best' and ideas were incorporated from patients, the public, and local organisations such as the Alzheimer's Society, Carers' Resource and Meri Yaadain.

The Foundation Trust also enlisted the help of local landscape designer, Adele Adams, and Helen Kitchen of Lime Art who commissioned artists Stella Corrall, Helen Bridges and Clinton Pilkington.

When the Prime Minister's Dementia Challenge grants were announced last July, Bradford Teaching Hospitals was among the first of 42 hospital trusts awarded money to develop dementia-friendly environments.

The official opening comes ahead of next week's Dementia Awareness Week 2014 which begins this Sunday (May 18-24) and the Foundation Trust has committed to rolling out similar improvements elsewhere as its wards are developed or refurbished.

Mrs Greenwood continued: 

"The St Luke's scheme is an absolutely excellent example of whole communities and professionals, from across many different organisations, working together for the good of society. It wouldn't have been possible for us to have done this on our own, and it is great indication of how committed this city is towards improving the quality of life for its citizens and, most especially for people who live with dementia."
"We recognise this building's benefits for our patients and we will continually work to build on and improve the quality of care here at our hospitals."

The official opening took place at the Horton Wing main entrance where chief executive, Bryan Millar, welcomed guests to the event. A marquee, specially erected for the event and sponsored by the dementia-friendly, My Life computer software company, enabled community groups and the hospital to come together to celebrate the launch.

Patients, visitors, staff and the public also got the chance to see the new dementia-friendly improvements at first hand and were able to find out more about what services and information exist across the district, in supporting people to live well with dementia.

It is estimated that across Bradford there are around 6,000 people living with dementia.

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, as a member of the Bradford Dementia Action Alliance, is supporting our community and city in its efforts to become dementia friendly.