Dementia friendly ward unveiled at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital

Ward sister Jackie Smith in Elsing Ward at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, where the bays have been colour coded to make it easier for dementia patients to move around the ward. Picture: Denise Bradley Ward sister Jackie Smith in Elsing Ward at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, where the bays have been colour coded to make it easier for dementia patients to move around the ward. Picture: Denise Bradley

Tuesday, May 20, 2014
6:30 AM

Officials have pledged to make further changes to a Norfolk hospital after unveiling its first dementia-friendly ward.

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Carla Amaro, and Leo Ribeiro, assistant practitioners for dementia support on Elsing Ward at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Denise BradleyCarla Amaro, and Leo Ribeiro, assistant practitioners for dementia support on Elsing Ward at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital. Picture: Denise Bradley

Staff at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital have used funding from the Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance to make Elsing Ward more homely and easier for patients to negotiate.

The ward, which looks after elderly patients - many of whom have some form of dementia or cognitive impairment - has undergone a transformation over the last year.

Managers have introduced new colour coded bays and toilets and amended or removed signage to make it easier for patients to find their way around the ward.

A number of recognisable photographic scenes of Norfolk, including Cromer Pier, Wells, and Happisburgh lighthouse, have also been placed around the ward to help trigger off people’s memories and make it a more relaxing environment.

Officials from the N&N used research from the King’s Fund showing that the introduction of contrasting and bright colours such as purple and yellow and green and blue were easier to spot for people who were losing the ability to identify different colours.

Day and date clocks have also been installed in each bay to help patients who are feeling confused or disorientated.

A multi-purpose day room has also been created on Elsing Ward where patients can play board or card games and there is a TV to show archive DVDs.

Liz Yaxley, dementia services project manager at the N&N said: “We wanted the whole ward to have a warm feeling and feel more homely. It helps their general wellbeing and triggers off people’s memories and gets them walking. We encourage mobility and for the patients to walk around the ward and there are places they can stop off and have a chat.”

“We hope people find their way better by the colour-coded bays and toilets and if they go for a walk, they know where to come back to. It helps people feel more relaxed and more cared for and increases their sense of wellbeing and makes them feel more secure and calmer.”

Around a third of patients taken to the N&N have been diagnosed with dementia, or are suspected of having the condition, or have cognitive impairment.

Jane Douglas, matron in older person’s medicine, said they first started working on creating a dementia-friendly room in 2011 after receiving funding from the dementia alliance. The work at Elsing Ward was completed two months ago.

“Our aspiration is to make the hospital dementia-friendly across the hospital and we have started to look at signage and other environmental changes like colour coding.”

“It can be traumatic going from one ward to another and this ward is more calmer and makes a huge difference. We have had good Friends and Family results and we have not had any concerns from people,” she said.

A range of activities are arranged for dementia patients at the hospital, including a fortnightly singing and dancing session on the ward.

■ Three new dementia support workers started working on inpatient wards at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital earlier this year with the aim of enhancing the experience of patients with Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia.

The new roles, which also offer specialist advice and support to the relatives and carers of people with dementia, were funded by a local charity who have asked to remain anonymous.

Officials from the N&N said the donation would fund the dementia support workers for five years and the hospital would look to extend the roles to outpatient services in the future.

The dementia support workers received training by the Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance, the Alzheimer’s Society, MIND and Norfolk Library Services.

Their job is to signpost families to support services and work with patients on a one to one basis to promote wellbeing and cognitive stimulation by reading to dementia patients and doing therapeutic hand massages.

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