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Trust adopts new visiting policy for dementia patient families

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A Midlands trust has adopted a policy of allowing the relatives of dementia patients to remain on its wards outside of normal visiting hours and help staff with personal care.

The initiative, to be called Stay with Me, is being rolled out over the next month into all wards and clinical areas, said University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust.

“The principles behind this campaign are very simple”

Justine Allen

The principles of the scheme were inspired by John’s Campaign, a national initiative founded by Nicci Gerrard in memory of her father, Dr John Gerrard, said the trust.

Throughout June and July 2017, the initiative was piloted on wards 32, 33 and 36 at Leicester Royal Infirmary to see how it worked in practice, and to identify possible barriers and difficulties.

During the pilot, staff welcomed carers, friends and family onto the three wards beyond standard visiting hours and worked with families to help provide care for patients, the trust said.

Over 1,400 patients were admitted to the wards, of which 14 patients had a diagnosis of dementia and had family who were supported by the scheme to stay beyond visiting times with the patient.

“Having a familiar face by your side… can make a huge difference to health and recovery”

Justine Allen

The results of the pilot were “overwhelmingly positive and showed excellent engagement with staff from start to finish”, said the trust in a statement announcing the roll-out.

Carer and family feedback also suggested they felt more supported and involved, added the trust.

The scheme’s full introduction was officially launched by Ms Gerrard and trust chief nurse Julie Smith during a Leicester’s Hospitals Champions Celebration Event on Wednesday.

The event, which is taking place during Older People’s Month 2017, is intended to celebrate the hard work and support that dementia and older people champions provide to the hospital’s patients.

University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust

A&E ‘inadequate, chaotic and compromised safety’

Julie Smith

Justine Allen, from the trust’s patient experience team, said: “The ethos of Stay with Me is to help create a welcoming environment on all hospital wards where there are no barriers for family who wish to stay beyond visiting times for patients with dementia.  

“There is a wealth of evidence to suggest patients with dementia who are often frail, vulnerable adults have much more positive outcomes if they are with people they are most familiar with,” she said.

“The principles behind this campaign are very simple and similar to that of our existing ‘carers charter’ – to allow family, carers and friends to help support vulnerable patients – so it made sense to trial the campaign to see if it could enhance what we already do,” she said.

Ms Allen added: “Where patients may need some extra support, we have found this is often best placed to come from someone they know and love.

“Having a familiar face by your side to help with getting dressed, eating or by just simply being there for company and reassurance, can make a huge difference to health and recovery,” she noted.


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