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Dementia day room to help preserve patient memories

19 May 2017

Health Care

As part of national Dementia Awareness Week (May 15-21), Southend University Hospital opened its first ever dementia day room.

Walking into the room with its giant images of The Kursaal, its retro TV cabinet and old-style cooker, it is like stepping into a time warp of decades gone by with its memory triggering artwork and features.

There are also rummage boxes featuring memory prompt items covering everything from food to knitting and musicals to make-up. The rooms also feature colouring books, massage therapy, DVDs, CDs and records, old and more up to date, reflecting that dementia can impact people of any age.

In addition to helping to create the day rooms on Princess Anne Ward and on Windsor Ward, the appeal has also helped to fund a projector to show films on the old style theatre screen, a portable sensory suite to help create a surrounding where patients can feel more relaxed and at home, bed chair sensors to alert staff to patients at risk of falling. There are also various reminiscence tools, such as jigsaws, which you can see to help cognitive skills.  These tools will be used by the hospital's dedicated dementia befriending service, supported by the Trust's wonderful volunteers.

Kylie Locke, Matron for Medicine, said: "Being a hospital patient can be an unsettling experience for anyone, but for the estimated one in four patients with some formof dementia, the unfamiliar surroundings and people can be overwhelming.

"The hospital's Dementia Appeal's aim was to ensure these vulnerable patients are as comfortable and stress-free as they can possibly be while they are in our care. These amazing new therapeutic and interactive day rooms play a big and important part of that as it gives them a real sanctuary to spend time in."

None of it would have been possible though with the efforts of some fabulous fundraisers including the Roslin Beach Hotel, who have renovated the rooms for the Trust.

Jacqui Dallimore, Managing Director from the Roslin Beach Hotel, said: "These rooms are a testament to the passion and hard work that have been put into this project. It's not about a room though, it's about the patients and relatives who will get the very real benefits of using its fantastic facilities. We all know a relative or friend impacted by dementia so that was why we wanted to get involved."

Some of the fundraisers who have raised substantial amounts for the Dementia Appeal were present to see one of the new rooms for themselves.

These included Maureen Townley MBE and Linda Ansell MBE, both from Thorpe Bay, who are stalwart hospital charity supporters and have been raising money for the hospital for the past 30 years. This past year that fundraising has all been for the Dementia Appeal and their pop up stall in the fundraising unit at the hospital has raised an amazing £17,604 for dementia to date.

"Maureen and Linda said: "It's nice to see it all happen and be at the opening. The room looks really nice."

Dean Ovel, 41 from Westcliff-on-Sea, spent 24 hours running in an 8ft tall giant hamster wheel almost a year ago, all the money raised was for the Dementia Appeal in memory of his nans, both whom suffered with the disease. Dean's incredible running total was £8,710.24. Dean also runs with local running club, Leigh Striders, who kept up the pace raising £3,500.

Dean said: "It's good to see how the money gets put to use and the real difference that it does make. I was raising money for a specific purpose so to see the end result is great."

The opening of the rooms is the culmination of the hospital's Dementia Appeal, which was launched in April 2016. Thanks to the generous support of local people and businesses nearly £100,000 was raised to help improve the services Southend University Hospital provides to its patients suffering from Dementia.