Charity funded calendars help hospital become more dementia friendly

The Rotherham Hospital and Community Charity have funded a range of dementia-friendly calendars to help patients feel less anxious during their hospital stay.

All five bays on Ward A2 at Rotherham Hospital have now been furnished with the calendars, which change daily to show the day, date, season and weather. They can also be personalised with a unique message to make patients feel welcome.

Charity funded calendars help hospital become more dementia friendlyCarol Lilley, Deputy Ward Manager, successfully bid for £310 funding from the Charity for the calendars, she said: 

“Staying in hospital can be an unsettling experience for anyone but for someone with dementia, memory loss or other complex care needs, being away from home can feel particularly stressful.

“We already have dementia-friendly clocks on each bay on Ward A2, which show pictorially whether it’s day-time or night-time, so the calendars are the perfect accompaniment to those.

“The visual aids help patients feel less anxious, comfortable and aware of their surroundings which in turn can reduce any challenging behaviour and help them to recover quicker.”

The Alzheimer’s Society estimates that approximately one in four hospital beds are occupied by people living with dementia.  Figures also show that three-quarters of all people with a dementia diagnosis recorded in hospitals on admission were over 80. Their length of stay is often longer than for people without dementia and there can also be delays in supporting them to leave hospital.

The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust currently has 33 dementia link nurses to help ensure holistic care is delivered to our patients living with dementia.

The Charity has supported this work by funding resources and equipment above and beyond what the NHS can afford to help patients with dementia-related illnesses.

This included £28,790 funding for iPads loaded with digital reminiscent software and a touch-screen TV to help nurses, therapists and carers to engage with patients. The resources are used to access music, archive clips, photos, interactive games and photos which can trigger memories. The equipment is also used to engage patients in fulfilling activities, such as creating life stories or family trees.

Workers’ union Unison Rotherham also helped the Charity to fund dementia dolls for patients on wards across the hospital. The dolls are used to ease the anxiety dementia patients often feel when away from home and give them a sense of purpose.

Barry Mellor, Chair of the Charitable Funds Committee, said:

“We are always looking for ways we can enhance the compassionate care we provide to our patients and the new calendars on Ward A2 are such a simple but thoughtful idea.

“They really make a difference to the wellbeing of patients who perhaps have been with us for longer periods or those who unfortunately aren’t well enough to go outside and experience the change in weather.

“Thank you to everyone who supports the Charity because every donation, whether big or small, can make a difference.”

Colleagues on Ward A2 are currently working towards achieving the Quality Mark for Elder-Friendly Hospital Wards – a quality-improvement programme for individual wards in acute and community hospitals which helps medical professionals to assess the needs of older patients and provide better care.

Dr Rod Kersh, Dementia Lead at The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust, added:

“We’re really proud to have the new calendars on Ward A2 because they help us to reinforce the benefits of getting dressed and out of bed as part of the national ‘End PJ Paralysis’ campaign. This has seen a 20 per cent increase in elderly and frail patients wearing their own clothes in recent months, which creates a sense of wellbeing and normality.”