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A fresh approach to dementia care environments

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Nurses are leading multi-disciplinary clinical teams to Enhance the Healing Environment (EHE) for people with dementia.

The 10 projects under way are proving so beneficial that The King’s Fund, on behalf of the DH, is inviting applications from NHS trusts for 10 new places on the programme to improve the care environment for people with dementia.

The programme has two main elements:

  • a development - programme for a multi-disciplinary team, led by a nurse (usually at ward sister level or equivalent) and including estates and facilities staff, arts coordinators, modern matrons and other hospital staff,and service-user representatives
  • a project capital - allocation of £40,000 for the team to undertake a project to promote service user well-being and to foster a healing environment. The emphasis is on high quality, value-for-money schemes that exemplify good design principles.

Sun, sea and surf

An EHE team at Bodmin Hospital has started work the hospital’s Garner Ward to improve the facilities and create a unique space where patients with dementia and their families can interact.

After consulting widely with carers, staff, patients and the general public, they have come up with a Cornish design theme, based on sun, sea, sand and the region’s tin mining heritage.

‘The space will offer a tranquil bubble away from the everyday ward activities, where people can enjoy quality time together,’ says Dawn Spry, EHE Team Leader and Modern Matron.

Dawn’s fellow project team members are Garner’s Ward Manager Carolyn Tothill, Special Projects Manager Mike Sheer, Chaplain Chris Newell and Healthcare Assistant Debbie Kerr.

They have been busy fundraising to supplement their grant and have so far managed to raise an additional £30,000.

‘Working with The Kings Fund is an amazing experience,’ says Dawn. ‘You get the chance to meet so many people who really make you think about colour, lighting, design and the use of artwork to create a therapeutic environment for patients and carers.

‘It has also given clinicians the opportunity to have a real impact on the environment in which they provide care. And by speaking to numerous people from the local area, we have been able to make people more aware of dementia and the support available.’

Heavenly project

The EHE programme has helped transform a unit for older men with dementia in York from a drab institution into
a therapeutic and stimulating environment.

‘We chose a sun, moon and stars theme,’ says Peppermill Court’s Unit Manager Jude Timmis.

‘The sun is represented by the vibrant reception area, which has a tree as its centrepiece and real garden shed. The moon is a quieter space, and the stars are the residents themselves.’

A section of corridor has been transformed into a gallery of photographs of residents, from school days through to weddings, parenthood and retirement.

Jude, a mental health nurse by training, and Katie Howie, the PCT’s head occupational therapist, say the photographs help staff focus on the fact that these men are individuals. They also reassure relatives that their husbands and fathers are seen as real people with past lives and achievements.

Jude says the improvements have made Peppermill Court - run by North Yorkshire and York PCT - a more pleasant working environment for staff. More importantly, they have made a real difference to patients.

‘It’s about seeing how engaged people are in activities, rather than sitting alone in their rooms or staring doing nothing,’ she says.

 

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