New ward opens as hospital trust aims for one in five wards to be dementia-friendly

7th Nov 2013

A West Midlands hospital trust is celebrating the opening of its first ward designed with the intention of providing improved care for dementia patients.

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust will be opening the doors to the revamped ward D11 at City Hospital today (7 November), where patients admitted with dementia will be cared for in an environment specifically intended to reduce confusion and fear in patients and stimulate their memories.

The ward, which is for male elderly care patients, features dementia-friendly flooring, specially designed bathroom fittings and coloured-coded furniture and doors for staff and patient areas. There is also a homely quiet room and a specially-designed activity room, with a memory pod on the wall and memory boxes to spark reminiscences and inspire conversations. Patients and relatives also will be able to use these spaces to relax and enjoy time together away from their beds.

Each area of the ward is coded into the seasons, with Summer, Autumn and Winter Bays, with window and room divider decorations to suit. Beds are marked by symbols chosen by the patient to personalise their space and make them more identifiable, and signage throughout will help those patients who are also visually impaired. Clocks on plasma screens remind patients where they are, as well as telling the time. The highlight of the ward is a Rempod, a cinema showing news footage from past decades and where patients can watch their own DVDs or even home movies.

Kasmiro Aheer, ward matron on D11, said: “Everything has been carefully chosen and colour co-ordinated to help patients with dementia identify where they are, even down to which bay and bed they are in, and get around the ward safely.

“As well as reducing the disorientation and frustration patients with dementia often experience when they are brought into an unfamiliar environment, such as a hospital ward, there will be lots of activities for patients, and early next year we will have three dedicated activity co-ordinators to help with memory and creativity, such as reminiscence and music therapy.”

Astonishingly, the improvements to ward D11 were completed in less than four weeks and more dementia-friendly projects are in the pipeline, with a new female dementia-friendly ward opening at City Hospital early next month. A total of 10 wards will be completed across the Trusts’ sites at City, Sandwell and Rowley Regis Hospitals and Leasowes Intermediate Care Unit by March 2014, with two conservatories for patients also planned.

The improvements were funded as part of a £900,000 grant from the Department of Health to make ward areas more accessible for patients with dementia. These improvements are part of the Trust’s wider commitment to being “dementia friendly”, which includes equipping staff with the knowledge and skills to care for patients with dementia in the best possible way.

Kumbi Mandinyenya, Locality Manager for Alzheimer’s Society in Herefordshire & Worcestershire, said: “Hospitals can be a scary and distressing environment for all of us, but for people with dementia it can be terrifying. On top of poor health, people with dementia can struggle to make sense of what is happening to them and around them.

The dementia-friendly initiative that Sandwell and Birmingham Hospitals Trust are taking here will make a big difference. With more than one in four  in  hospital beds being occupied by patients with dementia, we need to become much more dementia aware. The improved care for people with dementia in all surroundings, and better support for their families, are key to communities becoming more dementia friendly.”


Back to News Stories