Staff at Southampton’s teaching hospitals are set to mark dementia awareness week (21 to 27 May) by celebrating the first birthday of a pioneering specialist ward dedicated to caring for patients affected by the condition.
The 14-bed enhanced dementia care ward (G7) at Southampton General Hospital was set up to help improve care and the environment for patients receiving medical treatment but who also suffer with complex dementia and delirium.
It offers direct admissions from the emergency department and the acute medical unit, as well as transfers from other areas, and is ‘dementia-friendly’ in both its appearance and processes.
The ward – the first of its kind in the UK – is less clinical in its look, with pictures on the walls as opposed to clinical information, music is played, doors are often screened off to prevent distractions and there is less through traffic to minimise disruption.
It is also smaller than many other wards which ensures a calmer environment and enables patients the opportunity to walk around safely, while staff work with the same patients to provide continuity and familiarity.
Staff – which include an older persons’ mental health consultant, a senior ward nurse, senior discharge nurse and specialist admiral nurses – also run a daily activity programme involving live music and arts and crafts in the day room or at patients’ bedsides.
“Since opening, G7 has had a positive impact on the lives of many patients and carers,” said Lucy Ward, enhanced dementia care ward leader.
“It belongs to a group of six medicine for older people wards and it was important when setting it up to have the right staff who were motivated and had a passion caring for patients with dementia as well as the right facilities.
“The constant feedback from carers and families shows they feel patients are treated with dignity alongside their treatment, while 85% of staff strongly agree G7 offers an improvement in the level of care for people with dementia – so we are delighted at this progress.”
Ms Ward said the department is now working with other wards and units across University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and other hospital trusts to replicate its model of care.
Staff are also actively involved with fundraising activities via Southampton Hospital Charity to help improve and maintain the ‘dementia-friendly’ environment, with more than £3,500 raised so far.
The ward will mark its first year with an event tomorrow (Wednesday) which will include an official opening at 3pm followed by a series of talks from staff between 4pm and 7pm in lecture theatre one, South Academic Block, Southampton General Hospital.
Posted on Tuesday 22 May 2018