A boxful of nostalgia provides effective therapy
13 June 2013
Rummaging through a toolbox containing sets of dominoes, playing cards, keys, old photographs and other familiar items is proving an effective way of calming older hospital patients when they become agitated or anxious.
Southend University Hospital's day assessment unit (DAU) now has
around 20 memory boxes - thanks to a grant from the hospital's
charitable funds and the success of members at
The group's interest was triggered by DAU manager Louisa Brown
who was named their 'woman of the year' last year after losing four
-and-a-half stone in just 12 months. Despite her new svelte figure,
Louisa has remained a member to stop her slipping back and because
she enjoys the social element. The group undertook a sponsored slim
to raise £500 for the department.
The popular Tiptree Toolboxes were first developed for patients
with dementia at Colchester Hospital and have been modified for
Southend patients by falls practitioner Kate Chapman, who said:
"Patients with dementia are twice as likely to have a fall. To stop
them pacing around the ward, we can sit down with them and use the
contents of the boxes to have a meaningful conversation about their
reminiscences and life story. We are finding this has a very
Louisa added: "We had already bought four boxes with the charity
funding so when the group was looking for a local charity to
support, I suggested they might like to provide some more. We are
really grateful to the members as the boxes are proving invaluable
for focusing the attention of some of our vulnerable patients."
The contents also include a big-piece jigsaw, a calculator for
patients who may have worked with figures, some coloured pencils
and a bright yellow duster."
A delighted Christine Timms, dementia clinical nurse specialist
(CNS) at Southend, said: "We must do all we can to prevent falls
which can cause pain, injury, loss of confidence and independence
and increase the patient's length of stay.
"Patients with dementia are prone to 'sundowning' - becoming
more confused in the late afternoon or early evening. In an
unfamiliar environment, the toolboxes provide a focus.
"It is hoped that eventually there will be one toolbox in every
adult ward and theSlimming Worldgroup has certainly made a huge
contribution to achieving this."
With pic:Louisa Brown and Kate Chapman show off the toolbox and
big-piece London bus jigsaw