Raising the standard of care for patients living with dementia is the goal of the 15 new Dementia Care Champions at East Surrey Hospital.
The nurses and an occupational therapist have recently completed a course that highlighted the different needs of patients with dementia.
The staff looked at a wide range of issues including the ward environment, pain relief, communication, and most importantly, treating people as individuals.
In the last six months of 2012 the hospital treated almost 300 patients with dementia and the number is growing each year. The hospital will now have a Dementia Champion linked to every ward who can advance practise, educate the staff and improve patient care.
Ward manager Jackie Edwards attended the course. She said: “We are getting family and friends to fill out individual biographies so that we have a much better idea of what our patients are like and what interests them.”
The importance of the environment was also shown to have a large impact. Bright lights, noisy wards and clear signs were all highlighted as issues that can cause additional stress for someone who has dementia.
Recognising that as a person ages the ability to distinguish between similar colours diminishes and the field of vision changes, the team plan to raise awareness of this through the use of bright colours, picture signs and large clocks. They also learnt that something as simple as knowing where the toilets are through the use of clear signs and communication can make a big difference to the independence of a patient with dementia.
Course organiser Michelle Mayhew said: “The staff have learnt a more positive way of thinking about dementia and how we can deliver high standard compassionate care.”
The senior practice development nurse added: “We are now developing an action plan to put the learning that has taken place into practice and to raise awareness across all staff groups so that they can work together to continue delivering high quality care for patients with dementia”.