The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead is set to invest more than £750,000 in a mental health unit for older patients with dementia.
The investment in the Cragside Court unit at the hospital will provide a wide range of improvements to enable staff to offer “much better care in a modern, safe and therapeutic environment”.
“We’re really excited about the changes and what they will mean for our patients and staff”
The new “dementia friendly” plans will increase privacy and dignity by incorporating more private spaces for patients, as well as introducing a separate examination and treatment room, according to Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust.
The transformation of the unit will allow staff to provide a better service for patients in the hospital and many of those working there have been closely involved in the new designs for the building, it said.
The trust noted that the redevelopment would include a range of major improvements such as better lighting and flooring, improved facilities for patients and staff and the introduction of friendlier spaces that will be more familiar to patients.
There will also be dementia friendly signage, a more personal approach to each patient and all single sex rooms with ensuite toilets.
“It’s the culmination of a great deal of work by our staff who are passionate about driving improvements”
In addition, the new unit will contain artwork and a range of objects that help patients uncover memories and reminisce about times in their past.
The space will also enable staff to make better use of the activities they arrange for inpatients such as dancing and movie nights, said the trust.
One of the key aims of the new design is to help reduce the tension, anxiety and challenging behavior that can often accompany serious dementia by providing a much more comfortable and stimulating environment, it noted.
Kelly Chequer, nurse consultant for older person’s mental health in Gateshead, said: “We’re really excited about the changes and what they will mean for our patients and staff.
“This will provide us with a fantastic new facility for Gateshead that will encourage better interaction between patients and staff, allowing us to offer a much better service to some of the most vulnerable people,” she said.
“The changes will also focus on improving the overall patient experience and reducing the risk of slips, trips and falls through intelligent design,” said Ms Chequer.
“This will minimise restrictions and maximise independence for people in the building, allowing patients to retain and build on their skills which can often be seriously affected by an admission to hospital, as well as allowing staff to support them through observations that don’t intrude on privacy or dignity,” she said.
She added: “We also want to ensure the highest quality environment for people who are in hospital with dementia and focus on being dementia friendly, safe and therapeutic.
“We’re modernising the building in line with the very latest national standards and ideas around caring for people with dementia including access to natural light and sensory stimulation,” she said.
Trust chief executive Ian Renwick said: “This is a really important investment for the hospital that we know will really benefit some of our most vulnerable patients.
“It’s the culmination of a great deal of work by our staff who are passionate about driving improvements in the care we are able to provide for people with dementia,” he added.