Dementia befrienders thanked as part of Dementia Action Week
24 May 2018
Southend Hospital has 50 dedicated feeding buddies and 13 dementia befriender volunteers, and more than 20 of them were thanked for their continued work and dedication to patients and the Trust with an afternoon of tea and cake, as part of National Dementia Action Week, which runs from Monday 21 May – Sunday 27 May.
Being in hospital can be a frightening time for anyone and the
dementia befrienders are welcoming faces who sit in wards and talk
to patients diagnosed with dementia. They can chat, listen or
simply just be there and hold the hand of a patient with
The tuneful sound of Lee Pankhurst twanging away on his
guitar has become a familiar and welcome tone reverberating around
the care of the elderly wards of the hospital, something the
guitarist, aged 56, from Westcliff, has been doing for a year.
Lee said: "When I started out as a dementia befriender I found
that sometimes it was a struggle to have a conversation with some
of the patients and asked if I could bring my guitar with me. I
play songs that everyone can listen to and it brightens up their
day, and mine as well."
Lindsay Popham, Dementia Clinical Nurse Specialist, said: "Lee
makes an amazing difference to patients, it gets them singing,
reminiscing and encourages movement. Music accesses different parts
of the brain than language, so music can be used to communicate or
engage with someone who has been diagnosed with dementia, even if
they no longer speak or respond to other people's words.
"Music may inspire an emotional reaction for the patient, so
playing music that meant something to them, such as a favourite
song, or a tune they used to sing to their children, can tap into
powerful memories and emotions and help them connect with others
There were lots of other events taking place during Dementia
Action Week at the Trust including a rousing sing-a-along with
guitar playing volunteer Lee Pankhurst and a visit from Lily, a
Tibetan spaniel, and her owner Sylvia, part of Pets As Therapy