Leading way with dementia-friendly care

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HEALTH workers in Yorkshire have been recognised for their leading role in helping to improve the care of patients with dementia.

Bradford Royal Infirmary and the Yorkshire Ambulance Service are the first hospital and ambulance trust in the country to be awarded an official marque by the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Action Alliance acknowledging their efforts to become more dementia-friendly.

Work at Bradford Royal Infirmary has included specialist training for more than 900 staff since last year, including sessions wearing a simulation suit that mimics some of the effects of ageing.

The hospital has also undergone major renovations to two elderly care wards and its surgical orthopedics ward in a bid to make them more dementia-friendly. Plans are now underway for similar work at sister hospital St Luke’s next year.

Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has also improved the signs on toilets and changed the colour of all its toilet seats to help patients with perception difficulties, as well as installing special clocks including the date along with the time on wards.

Patients with dementia are identified with a forget-me-not flower symbol on their records and bedhead and the hospital’s dementia champions all have the same symbol on their name badge.

Chief Nurse Juliette Greenwood said: “We are delighted at the progress we have made in such a short time in transforming our ward environments to help make hospital stays less anxious for these patients with cognitive impairments.

“We will continue to work hard to improve the care we provide here in Bradford and we will strive to continuously develop our services and set up new projects to support the increasing numbers of people with the condition that we expect to treat in the coming years.”

Work at Yorkshire Ambulance Service has included the development of a comprehensive training programme focusing on patient assessment, communication challenges, recognising pain and distress and dealing with challenging behaviours.

The training is now given as part of the induction of new staff and existing workers will receive refresher sessions.

Rod Barnes, of the trust, said: “Our staff are frequently in contact with people who have dementia so it is vitally important that they are well trained and informed about the condition so that they have a good understanding of how best to deal with those affected,” he said.

Simon Wallace, project manager for the Yorkshire and Humber Dementia Action Alliance, said: “I am absolutely delighted to be able to recognise their efforts by awarding this Working to Become Dementia Friendly symbol for them to use.”

The Yorkshire Post is raising money for the Alzheimer’s Society this Christmas through an online auction and appeal. To find out how you can help, visit www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/appeal.