Southend Hospital’s £100,000 dementia appeal to improve lives
21 April 2016
Southend University Hospital has launched an ambitious fundraising campaign to raise £100,000 to improve the hospital environment for patients with dementia.
The launch event took place in the KeyMed lecture theatre and
featured a representative from the Alzheimer's Society giving a
background to dementia, saying that there are 850,000 people with
dementia in the UK today, which is expected to rise to over a
million by 2025. Key hospital staff also talked about what changes
and improvements the money raised would bring.
Southend Hospital already has a dedicated memory clinic which
has been accredited by the Royal Society of Psychiatrists and three
dedicated elderly wards - Windsor, Princess Anne and Estuary OPAS
(Older People's Acute Services).
The team involved are looking at new ways to make a difference
such as giving dementia patients different coloured wristbands to
help identify them, something which is already done for patients
This and the introduction of a forget me not flower symbol above
patients' beds will initially help highlight the condition to all
staff and not just be flagged on patient notes, important when you
consider that it is estimated that 1 in 4 patients in hospital
suffers from dementia.
Dr Whitear, associate specialist in elderly medicine, said: "As
part of this we are creating a positive relationship of care and
training across the whole hospital as we understand that dementia
care is not just about care on our dementia wards, it is across all
of our areas. To have that level of understanding of the dementia
experience, we have to live in their world and not in ours."
There will be a focus on two dementia wards, Princess Anne and
Windsor, which will include the creation of two therapeutic and
interactive dementia-friendly day rooms with RemPods, which
recreate rooms using décor and furniture from the past.
Sensory units and reminiscence items such as memory boxes and
local artwork, including prominent images of the pier and the
Kursaal will also form part of this very visual area, to help
stimulate patients and prompt memories.
Dr Whitear elaborated: "It's about being dementia friendly, we
know that a good care environment can help to promote understanding
and improve mental well-being for dementia patients. The RemPods
turn the clinical and sometimes alien environment of a hospital
ward into a calming and familiar place for dementia patients, as
well as a more welcoming space for families and staff. With large
spacious day rooms it also gets patients away from their bed,
allowing them to socialise and talk with other people."
The plan is also to really involve loved ones in deciding care
plans and getting them involved on the ward.
Dr Whitear continued: "I like to use the analogy regarding
paediatrics: a patient comes onto that ward and if a member of the
family wants to stay then a bed is made available and they can stay
with the patient the whole time they are in the hospital. We are
looking at being able to offer the same.
"But we also want to support the carers, who live with very
stressful situations day to day 24/7, so we are looking at setting
up carer centres and a dementia café where they can access vital
help and support. The hope is that we'll be able to bring support
workers in and give relatives the type of counselling they need on
the ward. When you are at home it can be very difficult to get that
arranged and sorted, but whilst in hospital we want to use that as
a real opportunity."
One of those relatives affected by caring for a loved one with
dementia is Lorraine Swadling, from Leigh. Her mum, Barbara,
herself a former nurse at Southend, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's
disease just over a year ago on her 84th birthday.
At the launch Lorraine painted a vivid, rounded picture of her
mum who had done so much, from winning a scholarship to Southend
High School for Girls at the age of 11 and landing a job at the
Bank of England after leaving school. After that she joined The
Queen Alexandra Royal nursing corp that took her to Singapore in
Lorraine explained how her high-achieving, strong mother is
slowly disappearing. Touchingly she said: "The woman today forgets
the faces and names of her friends that she has known for decades.
She does not start a conversation any more but picks up certain
"Alzheimer's and dementia are diseases like no others, the
person you know and love changes considerable and you see them
gradually lose their capabilities and skills and some of their
personality. At the moment my mother is aware that her memory is
failing and gets quite distressed. Whether it will be easier for
her when this realisation goes I don't know.
"But it will be difficult for the family as we lose that person
piece by piece as time passes. The person who once took charge has
now put me in the driving seat; I have to make the decisions."
One of those decisions that Lorraine has made for herself is to
help others, which she has been doing at Southend Hospital for the
last two years as a dementia befriender, which sees her chatting to
patients and keeping them stimulated and engaged, something she
finds very rewarding. So Lorraine was thrilled to see the campaign
get off to an amazing start with the donation of £8,000 from
trustees from the hospital's charity Foundation.
Find out more about the appeal here: http://bit.ly/dementiaappealleaflet