New Dementia Support Workers helping more patients and relatives

Thanks to the generous support of a local charity, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) has been able to establish a new innovative service to provide more support for patients with dementia, their families and carers.

Three new Dementia Support Workers joined the hospital in November 2013 with the aim of enhancing the experience of patients with dementia while they are in hospital, as well as offering specialist advice and support to their relatives and carers. The new posts have been funded by a charitable donation to the Trust. The Dementia Support Workers offer extra non-clinical support, over and above that provided by clinicians, including:

• Emotional support for families and carers, with signposting to services which provide advocacy, benefit advice, befriending as well as information on, carers groups, charities and voluntary organisations
• 1:1 activities with patients to promote wellbeing and cognitive stimulation, such as reminiscence, reading aloud and gentle touch massage of the hands
• Helping patients and their relatives or carers in completing 'This is Me' booklets which promote understanding of the person to aid person-centred care. This is where a patient’s likes, dislikes and interests and routines can be recorded.

The Dementia Support Workers have received training by the Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance, the Alzheimer's Society, MIND and Norfolk Library Services. They have also shadowed various professionals around the hospital including occupational therapists, physiotherapists and mental health liaison nurses.

Dr Martyn Patel, Consultant Geriatrician and lead for Dementia, said: “Dementia or delirium affects around a third of our in-patients, so we are delighted to have this service up and running, offering extra support to this group of patients and their families. If you have dementia, being away from home and the people who usually care for you can be distressing and lonely. Not all patients with dementia will need this service but clinical teams or social services can refer patients they think could benefit from any of the areas of support the team offers.”

Liz Yaxley, Dementia Project Manager added: “The Dementia Support Workers are on hand to support patients with an existing or new diagnosis of dementia, seven days a week. Their shifts cover evenings and weekends so that they can speak to families and carers during visiting times. We hope to be able to roll out the service to patients with dementia attending out-patient appointments by the summer.”

Friday 17th of January 2014 10:00:13 AM