[This article first appeared as part of a feature in: Dementia: the Latest Evidence Newsletter RWHT Volume 1 Issue 7 February 2011].
The New Cross Hospital Dementia Project, funded by the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority, has created a “dementia care bundle” incorporating practices which lead to better outcomes for patients.
Grace Hampson, Project Manager of the New Cross Hospital Dementia Project, explains how this dementia care bundle comprises the following elements:
- Hydration and Nutrition
A 20 bed Physical Illness and Dementia Ward has been opened at New Cross Hospital for people who have dementia as well as the health condition for which they are being treated. This ward has been designed to help engage people with activities and things that interest them. Specific measures to make the ward dementia friendly include:
- A toilet door that can be seen from everywhere on the ward, with a sign that is bright and easily visible.
- Other doors which patients do not need, such as a cleaning cupboard, blend in with the walls.
- Everything around the beds is within easy reach.
- The bell can be seen easily.
- A table, which permits patients who are well enough to sit with others when eating.
- A garden, and a reminiscence area, to encourage patients to engage.
- Space for relatives to stay should they wish.
Hydration and Nutrition
Special attention is given to ensuring patients eat and drink enough. This involves checking people get the drinks they actually like and help with drinking if required.
All staff, from porters to nurses and doctors, receive training in communication with people with dementia. This involves reading body language, making eye contact, and knowing how to understand what may be happening when a person is not responding verbally.
When patients are admitted to the ward, they are allocated a carer. The carer engages with the patient and family members, learning in detail about the things that matter to the patient. This communication covers a whole spectrum of interests ranging from important details, such as who else is in their family, all the way down to little considerations such as whether they take sugar in their tea. This enables the carer to offer individualised person-centred care.
Patients are checked at regular intervals, around once an hour, to see if they are happy or if they need anything such as a drink.
Outreach and Training
Not all patients with dementia can be located on the dedicated dementia ward. Patients who have had a stroke, for example, need to be on a ward dedicated to caring for people with this condition.
The New Cross Hospital Dementia Project has an outreach team, going out to wards throughout the hospital to visit patients and staff, thereby enabling them to put improved dementia care into practice.
“Our aim is to have a fully dementia friendly hospital – or as near as possible,” says Grace. “We have a very ambitious training programme for staff.”