East Surrey Hospital, run by Surrey and Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust, is the first hospital to trial information boards developed by Mycarematters to help give nurses, doctors and clinical teams a simple insight into some extra details about the individual patients, living with dementia, who they are caring for.
Mycarematters boards have picture symbols for topics that are filled in by a relative or loved one to reveal more about the person behind the patient: preferences for food, music, previous work background, favourite past time. The boards are being trialled on two wards at East Surrey Hospital next to the beds of patients with dementia or memory issues. This means that clinicians and members of the ward teams are able to see extra information about the patient at a glance.
Chris O’Connor, consultant nurse for dementia at SASH, said: “The reaction from patients and families has been very positive. One patient’s daughter said to me, ‘This board makes my mum a person again, not a patient.’
“These boards provide staff with information about who the person they are caring for, for example what sort of job they had or how they like their tea etc. The boards make it easier for staff to engage with the person. It’s about caring for the whole person, both their physical and mental wellbeing.”
Lorraine Kutner, from Redhill, who has been visiting her dad, John, said: “I think it’s a brilliant idea because dad is not able to express his likes and dislikes, what kind of person he is. The board shows his preferences from music to food, a little bit about his personality as he is a very private person, which is important for hospital staff to know. I think it’s a really nice insight into my dad.”
The Mycarematters boards started life as humble post-it notes in a nursing home, written by Zoe Harris to assist in the care of her husband who had dementia and was unable to communicate with people in the last months of his life.
“My scribbled notes rapidly turned into a laminated wall chart, a very simple concept using symbols,” Zoe said. “I laminated it so I could easily update the information when necessary and I used symbols to help staff find the information they needed quickly and easily.”
Zoe added: “I’m delighted that SASH is the first hospital to trial the boards, which aim to improve the experience of patients. Sharing some of the simple aspects about a person with dementia can make a big difference to their wellbeing. Dementia is set to touch the lives of more people as the population gets older.”