Medway team offers a helping hand for patients with dementia

Date: 07 November 2016

Dementia Lead Jo Dron with Twiddlemuffs
Jo Dron, Dementia Clinical Nurse Specialist, with a pair of Twiddlemuffs, a therapeutic aid for people with dementia

It is estimated that, in a hospital the size of ours, there are around 100 people with dementia in adult in-patient beds at any given time. These will usually be a mix of diagnosed and undiagnosed patients. For these individuals, coming into hospital can be a confusing and sometimes frightening experience, but our Dementia and Delirium Team is here to help.

Jo Dron, Clinical Nurse Specialist, and Ruth Goodey, Carer Support Worker, provide support to ward teams, patients and carers in all areas of the hospital, including the Emergency Department and outpatient clinics. They see patients of all ages and backgrounds, and in various stages of dementia and delirium.

One of the biggest challenges health professionals face is properly identifying those individuals who may have the condition.

‘We now know that there are over 100 conditions that cause dementia, and sometimes people may be experiencing one of these, or a combination of these, at any given time,’ said Jo. ‘Giving staff the ability to identify dementia, and making them more aware of how to communicate with patients who may have dementia, is an important part of providing good care for our patients’.

One way that we are tackling this challenge is through the Butterfly Scheme where patients with dementia can have a picture of a butterfly placed on their notes. This helps ward teams to identify these patients and provide appropriate care and support. The team has also produced a brochure that gives advice to people with dementia and carers when coming into hospital.

Improved training and induction programmes provide staff with the knowledge and skills they need to care for people with dementia more effectively. Clinical staff can take a Dementia Pathfinders programme on dementia and delirium as a study day, and Jo offers a shorter version of this session which is open to all staff on induction, and through a monthly refresher. By giving staff the training and support needed to properly identify and respond to people with dementia, Medway Maritime Hospital is working to give all patients safer, more compassionate care.

  • Summary:

    We are improving the training and induction programmes to provide staff with the knowledge and skills they need to care for people with dementia more effectively.