Dementia patients’ needs in focus on hospital ward

A ward at Pilgrim hospital is transforming the care of patients with dementia, by dedicating themselves to dementia-friendly training and activities.

Ward 3B at Pilgrim Hospital, Boston is a trauma orthopaedic ward with a high proportion of patients admitted with varying degrees of dementia.

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A ward at Pilgrim hospital is transforming the care of patients with dementia, by dedicating themselves to dementia-friendly training and activities.

Ward 3B at Pilgrim Hospital, Boston is a trauma orthopaedic ward with a high proportion of patients admitted with varying degrees of dementia.

Staff on the ward made the decision to work towards becoming a dementia friendly ward- doing everything they could to tailor their care to the dementia patients and improve their experiences as much as possible.

Their efforts have resulted in them being shortlisted in the improvement category of the recent ULHT Staff Awards 2016, recognising their efforts which have made a huge improvement to the quality of they provide to patients.

Their successes are also being celebrated to coincide with national Dementia Awareness Week this week.

Ward Sister Rebecca Taylor: “A few of us got together with the Alzheimer’s Society to look at what we could do to try and support these patients on the ward. These patients often require surgery and thus experience a delirium in addition to their existing dementia, making them frightened and disorientated.”

Their approach started with all staff on the ward being trained as a ‘Dementia Friend’- an Alzheimer’s Society initiative to help staff understand what it’s like to live with dementia, and encourage them to make a difference. Following this, four members of the team also took part in ‘Making a Difference’ training, which looks at knowledge and improving care for patients with dementia and enables them to start a project to further improve care on the ward.

Out of the training came numerous pieces  of work to help improve the experience of patients with dementia.

“Some of our staff decided to look into the use of fiddle blankets and twiddle muffs. We enlisted a local ‘knit and natter’ group and a friend and ex-nurse of the ward, Lizzie Baines, to make some fiddle blankets- these are used for patients who were distressed and were ‘fiddling’ with their cannulas and IV lines,” said Rebecca.

“Staff and relatives were so impressed with these that we enlisted more very kind local volunteers, including our very own nurse Jo Watson, to make some more. We also began looking at the use of twiddle muffs which are used to cover cannulas and sit comfortably on the arm. These too have been amazing and supportive for the patients.

“All fiddle blankets and twiddle muffs are single patient use so the patients can take them home with them.”

In addition to these, the ward has introduced memory boxes for patients. Staff picked items up from local car boot sales to create the boxes, which contain old games including draughts, cards puzzles, puzzle books, colouring pens, books and magazines. They also purchased 2 CD players and 1930’s 1940’s and 1950’s music to play in the bays on the ward.

The team works very closely with Sarah Durrant from the Alzheimer’s Society and refer patients to her whose family and carers require support.