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NHS hospitals going back to the future for dementia patients

NHS hospitals are helping patients with dementia by decorating their wards, rooms and corridors in 1940s and 1950s style.

Hospitals across the country have given their dementia wards a retro-inspired makeover to create a familiar environment for dementia patients which health bosses say can jog memories and reduce anxiety in sufferers.

Airedale Hospital in West Yorkshire has gone the extra mile to provide a stimulating environment for patients by creating a vintage tea room, complete with a shopfront, wall mural and retro memorabilia.

The hospital’s senior ward sister, Katie Widdop, said items from bygone eras can give patients conversational cues and help them talk about the memories they still retain. She said:

‘If patients are engaged in meaningful activity and given mental stimulation in hospital, not only do they sleep better, but they can be less agitated, are less likely to get up in the night and less likely to fall.

‘It’s all part of our work to provide the best possible one to one care and experience for patients in hospital with dementia.’

Emma Bould, programme partnership manager at Alzheimer’s Society said she wanted more hospitals to consider how they can best help people with dementia to engage with the world around them. She said:

‘We know that staying in hospital can be quite a stressful experience, especially for a person with dementia who may be more easily disorientated or confused.

‘By making dementia-friendly adaptions to a hospital setting and creating familiar environments from the past, hospitals can be transformed into spaces that will give people with dementia a sense of independence, reduce anxiety and improve both mental and physical health.

‘We welcome these steps to ensure dementia is a key priority for NHS England and would encourage more hospitals to consider how they can best support people with dementia to relax, recover and engage with the world around them by creating a more dementia-friendly environment.’

With the dementia diagnoses rate among older people at a record high, the NHS has made ageing well and caring for people with dementia both key priorities in the NHS Long Term Plan.

Welcoming the innovations, Alistair Burns, national clinical director for dementia and older people’s mental health for NHS England and NHS Improvement said:

‘The NHS diagnosed a record number of older people with dementia this year. It’s more important than ever that patients get the right support and care, as outlined in the NHS Long Term Plan.

‘These hospitals are making simple but hugely effective adjustments which can have enormous benefits to patients.’

Picture Credit – Airedale Hospital Trust

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