Dementia is a broad term used to describe a set of symptoms which include memory loss and other difficulties with thinking, problem solving and language.
It is a growing issue – 850,000 people are currently living with dementia in the UK and this number is set to rise to over one million by 2025.
Ashford Outpatients Sister, Diane Lashbrook, elaborates: ‘One in every six people over the age of 80 has dementia, so it affects many of our patients. Whilst each person will experience their dementia in their own unique way, there are some common challenges and we wanted to improve the environment of Outpatients to help with these’.
As a starting point the team conducted a ‘dementia friendly’ assessment of the environment, developed by The King’s Fund. ‘The audit was really useful as it showed us where we were doing well and where we could improve things for these patients’, said Diane.
Following the audit the team went on to:
- Create a team ‘Pledge Tree’, showing all the things they promised to do to help improve the experience of patients with dementia whilst in the outpatients department
- Create a separate ‘Forget-me-Not’ waiting area for patients with dementia, providing a quieter and calmer space away from loud noises which can be alarming.
- Brighten up the waiting area with bold pieces of artwork and a London bus stop sign – something historically recognisable to many patients showing them where to sit and wait.
- Provide some stimulation whilst waiting in the way of artwork, books and other tactile pieces – such as an old radio and board with different door handles – for patients to interact with.
- Inject some colour in the toilet facilities – such as red markings around the toilet roll holders - as patients with dementia find it difficult to see and navigate in white surroundings.
Diane adds: ‘Ashford Outpatients is a great team and we all feel passionately about providing the best possible care to our patients. Those with dementia need a little extra help to feel comfortable and secure in unfamiliar surroundings and we hope these changes will provide that. Feedback from patients, families and carers has been positive so far and we will continue to look at ways to improve.’