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Nurse donates furniture to create relaxation zone for older patients

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A dementia nurse has donated his office furniture to help create an informal area on a hospital ward where older patients can socialise.

The new “community corner” on the senior adult medical services ward at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Trust in Surrey was the brainchild of dementia and Admiral nurse lead Dave Sills and specialist physiotherapist Paula Watts, who were looking for ways to improve inpatients’ experiences.

“We want to bring them as close to a home away from home experience as possible”

Clarence Chikusu

Designed to encourage older patients to get up and move around during the day, the area is set up as somewhere people can meet, read, play games or watch TV. It provides a more relaxed setting where patients can rest and eat or chat to visitors and volunteers away from their beds.

Mr Sills donated some of his office furniture to help create the new zone, which has deliberately been painted a bright colour to give a different look to the rest of the ward and feel less clinical.

The initiative was supported by consultant physician Clarence Chikusu who emphasised the importance of emotional wellbeing in the recovery of older patients.

“Psychological deconditioning can have a tremendously harmful impact on physical wellbeing and therefore a lot of focus in managing unwell patients must go towards their psychological and emotional wellbeing too,” he said.

He said an initiative like the “community corner” helped create a social environment where people felt “at home”, helping to lift their spirits, tackle boredom and encourage conversation.

Providing a separate space where patients could enjoy a cup of tea and do everyday activities like reading the paper also helped improve their sense of time and place and combat feeling of disorientation and confusion, he added.

“There is a greater awareness of orientation in time, place and person owing to having newspapers to read, a television to watch and radio programmes to listen to and being able to mobilise up to the table and partake in teas, coffee or other warm drinks and snacks again enhances the likelihood of a more pleasant hospital stay,” said Dr Chikusu.

“For the time these patients are in hospital, we want to bring them as close to a home away from home experience as possible and make their transition to discharge smoother and happier,” he added.

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