Mid Cheshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust introduced changes to the hospital environment, making it more accessible to people with cognitive impairment. The enhancements include the use of coloured privacy doors which help patients orientate themselves in the ward environment, the use of appropriately coloured signs (incorporating photographs, symbols and written words) suitable for the visually and cognitively impaired, the provision of easy-to-interpret menus and daily routines utilising photographs and symbols. An activity lounge, led by the lead nurse for older people, offers access to social activities such as bingo, dominoes, music and memory boxes. Quotation:
“Philippa Pordes is Privacy and Dignity Matron at the trust. She was spurred into action by the government’s consultation on the National Dementia Strategy [which] highlighted the poor care people with dementia often receive when they go into hospital.
‘The report didn’t paint a good picture of what hospitals were doing, and I knew there was a lot to do to improve care for people with dementia.’
With a former colleague, psychiatrist Dr Mike Rimmer, she established the Dementia Care Pathway Group, which includes occupational and speech and language therapists, the lead nurse for older people, and a carer. Mandy Gough, Manager of the South Cheshire branch of Alzheimer’s Society, is also a member.”
These service improvements were developed at low cost, with the local strategic health authority funding and charitable donations. The changes appear to have resulted in positive outcomes, including improved feedback from patients and carers on how much easier it is to find their way around the wards, a reduction in incontinence, increased dignity for patients, improved carer and patient engagement and positive feedback from staff. Following the implementation of dementia care guidelines, the trust anticipates audit results which confirm these positive outcomes.
More recent details are found in:
Suarez, P. and Farrington-Douglas, J. (2010). Acute awareness: improving hospital care for people with dementia. London: The NHS Confederation, 2010.