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Activity boxes ‘fantastic conversation opener’ for older patients

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Nurses at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust are promoting the benefits of the activity boxes they recently introduced to help jog the memories of patients with dementia.

The boxes, which are also available to people with learning disabilities, have so far been placed on 38 inpatient wards, in patient transport areas and discharge lounges and outpatient departments.

“The activities stimulate conversations between dementia patients, staff and carers”

Nike Tella

The initiative was introduced during December and is currently being championed by the trust to coincide with Dementia Action Week.

The boxes help patients take part in conversations with ward and community staff and carers so they feel relaxed during a hospital stay or treatment, said the nurses involved in the initiative.

The boxes contain a range of materials including paint sets and story boards depicting everyday scenes like a tool box, kitchen or the seaside.

The story board illustrations include a power drill or kitchen whisk, and are simple enough to be completed by patients, with the support of ward and community staff or visiting family and friends.

Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust

Activity boxes

Clarissa O’Keefe, safeguarding adults and dementia trainer, Nike Tella, dementia and delirium clinical nurse specialist and Kerry Harwood, learning disabilities clinical nurse specialist

By taking part in meaningful activities, patients are helped to stimulate their memory and to build better relationships with staff, family and friends, noted the trust, potentially helping to reduce any anxiety they feel in a clinical setting.

Nike Tella, dementia and delirium clinical nurse specialist at Guy’s and St Thomas’, said: “These puzzles are a fantastic conversation opener and a great way for our staff to stimulate discussion with dementia patients who may otherwise feel lost in an environment that isn’t home.

“This form of therapy helps patients to reminisce about past events and recall memories from their life that they have enjoyed,” she said.

“The activities stimulate conversations between dementia patients, staff and carers, and help patients feel part of the day-to-day activities they see going on around them,” she added.

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