St Mary’s NHS Treatment Centre has pledged to make the centre dementia-friendly

The team at St Mary’s NHS Treatment Centre has pledged to make the centre dementia-friendly in order to support its most vulnerable patients after taking on NHS Always event challenge.

The idea of an always event is to ensure patients consistently receive the care that matters to them. The team analysed feedback from patients, carers and relatives to see what investment was needed to make the service more sensitive to the needs of patients living with dementia – a condition that affects around 850,000 people in the UK. 

The centre’s governance manager Tracey Davies said: “Visiting a hospital for tests, scans or surgery can cause anxiety, even for fit young patients. In those living with dementia there is an added level of confusion and disorientation that can cause distress.

“Our patients tend to be older members of the community. Some live with dementia and we wanted to ensure that, every time they visit us, they can look forward to consistently high levels of care and support in an empathetic environment.”

To make the centre easier for patients to move around, all signage has been changed to be dementia-friendly, showing a photograph of what is behind each door, and clocks have been replaced with a dementia-friendly display: this is not just larger, but also shows the day and clarifies whether the 12-hour clock is showing morning or afternoon.

In the toilets, seats are being changed to allow patients to distinguish between the seat and toilet, and the hot and cold taps are being made more easily distinguishable. In the lifts, mirrors can be covered over, as seeing reflections can cause distress and confusion for people with more advanced dementia.
And patients requiring surgery on cataracts are now allowed to take a family member or carer into the operating theatre.

Tracey said: “In order to ensure we can keep improving our understanding of the condition, I have joined the Portsmouth Dementia Action Alliance meetings, run by Solent Mind who came and assessed the works we have done with very positive feedback.  All clinical staff have become Dementia friends and all areas have Dementia leads.

“In 2020 we are planning to create a dementia-friendly atmosphere in one of the rooms in our Urgent Treatment Centre (UTC). The UTC provides walk-in care for minor ailments and injuries, at a time when someone who is living with dementia is in pain and confused, we want to create as warm and calm atmosphere as possible.”  We are also working with all staff to create a Dementia passport to ensure staff are aware of the patient’s likes and dislikes so we can review and treat the patient according to their needs.