How a donation transformed dementia care

A charitable donation more than 10 years ago has helped to transform dementia care for thousands of patients at our hospital.

The Dementia Support team was set up in 2013 thanks to a generous donation to the N&N Hospitals Charity for five years, before the team was funded by the Trust.

The donor has also contributed to funding a dementia palliative care nurse and an older people’s medicine volunteer co-ordinator post.

The team has grown to three nurses, an occupational therapist, five dementia support workers and the dementia services manager.

Liz Yaxley, Dementia Services Manager, said: “One of the most important aspects of this charity funding has been to give us the freedom to create the team in a way which works best for the patient and allows us not to just focus on the medical, but also the holistic aspects of their care and support.

“Providing personalised care to patients living with dementia is at the heart of the work we do at the hospital.

“It is a very individual process. We make sure we can address each patient’s personal needs and be a voice for them which in turn helps the whole ward team. This can be advising if there are particular ways the patient should take their medicine or being there though a difficult procedure or de-escalating the situation if a person in distress.

“From playing a patient’s favourite music, taking part in arts and crafts, or watching a television programme about a subject that really interests them – the Dementia Support team has a range of activities to help enhance wellbeing.”

It is not just the patients who benefit from the team’s work, families also feel listened to.

Liz said: “We look at the small details and can be a voice for the family because the patient is our focus and we can convey the messages which the family tells us, for example the patient’s routine and what works best for them which can make a huge difference to the quality of life of the patient.

“We stay with the patients throughout and the team is involved in creating dementia care plans and advising future care providers if additional support or health care is needed even in cases where the patient is well supported by their family.”

The team also delivers an education programme for the Trust and have already reached 1,500 staff to raise awareness and understanding of dementia to help improve the care they deliver.