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Nursing staff set up ‘distraction room’ for dementia patients


Nursing support staff at a mental health trust have come up with a new initiative to help their patients with dementia to connect with their past.

The two nursing assistants at Rotherham Doncaster and South Humber NHS Foundation Trust have created a specific room for people with dementia and memory problems.

“The room is proving very popular with our patients, their family and carers”

Johanne Keeton

Johanne Keeton and Jayne Powney, who work at the trust’s Windermere Lodge, came up with the idea to transform a spare room into a space for patients to reminisce using old-fashioned stimuli.

Windermere Lodge provides intensive personalised care to patients who have severe dementia and memory problems and on average the ward cares for 10 patients.

All patients are welcomed to use the “distraction room”, which opened in August this year, the trust told Nursing Times.

So far, hospital staff have found the area to be a useful way of helping patients to become less distressed and anxious.

The distraction room was stocked purely by donations from staff and is packed full of 1940s and 1950s themed items, which include an old-fashioned telephone and a wardrobe filled with clothes to dress up in.

Nursing staff have also been helping patients with dementia to talk about the activities they did in their past by using laundry, household cleaning equipment and a toolbox within the room.

A donated radio has also been used to encourage the patients to sing along and help spark memories from their younger days.

According to the trust, staff at the hospital have found the room can create new conversations with the patients and also distract those who may be in a moment of distress.

Postcards that have been sent from across York have been used to line the walls with pictures of famous people from their heyday to also help trigger conversation.

“It has been very enjoyable seeing the room come to life”

Jayne Powney

Ms Keeton, who helped to set up the distraction room in the summer, explained how this was the first time she had created something like this.

“The room is proving very popular with our patients, their family and carers,” she said. “All the items it contains generate those vital conversations which are an important part of the treatment for people with dementia and memory problems.”

Her partner in the project, Ms Powney, said the room would not have been possible without the support from their ward manager Roshanne Fox and the rest of the nursing team and friends who donated towards the cause.

“It has been very enjoyable seeing the room come to life,” she added.

The trust told Nursing Times that Windermere Lodge was in discussion with its grounded research team to see if it could evaluate the impact of the distraction room on patients.


Readers' comments (2)

  • Wonderful, I wish I could have one in my hospital. Do you have selection of patients allow in the room? My concern is some patients known to hoarding, may not let go of things they took from the room.

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  • A valuable piece of work using a traditional approach, and reference to 'tools' suggests that for once the specific interests of older men has not been overlooked.

    But what a shame such a negative term 'distraction room' has been used to describe it.

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