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Bus-less ‘bus stop’ to help reduce anxiety in dementia patients

24 May 2019

Health Care

Bus stops are something we are all familiar with, but a bus stop in the corridor of the emergency department of Southend University Hospital is something far more unexpected. Although it features a bus stop sign, a timetable and a bench, there won’t be any buses stopping. it will never have a bus actually stop at it. It is part of a joint project between the hospital and Arriva buses to help dementia patients feel less agitated when they visit hospital.

Sarah Ecclestone, Practice Development Clinical Skills Nurse, explained how it will aide patients: "Unfortunately, patients with dementia often have short term memory problems and can become agitated in unfamiliar surroundings, often wandering, with the common theme of patients wanting to go home. 

"Although patients may have short term memory loss, they are often able to recall familiar everyday landmarks from their long term memory and a bus stop can be one of those. 

"Research has found that individuals become much more relaxed at the sight of a bus stop, sitting down and waiting for their 'bus home'. It is something they often become fixated upon, and this installation will help put them at ease and take away some of that anxiety."

To help realise the bus-less bus stop Sarah and Senior Sister Hazel Stacey contacted Arriva, who have been a great source of support and shared in the passion of bringing this project to help dementia patients to life.

Colin Wright, General Manager for Arriva Herts & Essex, said: "We are delighted to be involved in such a thoughtful project. When Southend Hospital first approached us, we were honoured to be considered, and even happier to help. The work that the hospital and colleagues do is invaluable to the most vulnerable members of the local community, and anything we can do at Arriva to support this is very important to us as a business. If the bus stop makes even just one person smile, we'll consider it a success."



Image: Lee Burvill-Eclkett - Project Coordinator from Arriva, Sarah Ecclestone -  Practice Development Clinical Skills Nurse, Craig Taylor - Marketing Manager from Arriva, Hazel Stacey - Senior Sister and Colin Wright - General Manager from Arriva

Notes to editor

The bus stop is just one of the changes the department have made to help this vulnerable group of patients and help provide them the best possible experience whilst at Southend Hospital.

Signs and badges are all now on yellow backgrounds - which allows patients with dementia and other sight problems to be able to read them more easily... 

'Socks', a fake cat that purrs and breathes, has been introduced and she has already helped patients feel less agitated when giving her a calming stroke or cuddle on their laps.

Finally, a specialist pain score assessment is now being used for those patients who are unable to verbalise their pain and discomfort, is now being used. This allows staff to administer the most appropriate and effective pain relief.