Dementia Awareness Week: Care praised by CQC

Monday, 16 May 2016

People with dementia receive “sympathetic and knowledgeable” care and treatment within North Bristol NHS Trust, according to Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors who visited services.

The most recent CQC report for the Trust, which was published last month, highlighted dementia care as an area of “outstanding practice”.

“There was an outstanding example of responsiveness with the work of the dementia care team”, inspectors said following their visit to Southmead Hospital last December.

Dementia is one of North Bristol NHS Trust’s priorities and the Dementia Care Team has been working hard to ensure staff are supported to care for people with dementia.

During Dementia Awareness Week (May 15 – 21) the team is highlighting the different projects that are supporting people with dementia and their carers.

North Bristol NHS Trust Dementia Matron, Jet O’Neill, said: “About 25% of the patients we see are cognitively impaired, so it is important that we do all we can to provide support for staff to care for patients.”

Dementia Trainer Sharon Parsons and Dementia Matron Jet O'Neill in the Brunel building during Dementia Awareness Week

Among the areas that the CQC inspectors highlighted in their report was the Dementia Champions within the Trust.

There are currently more than 150 members of staff across the organisation who have already signed up to being Dementia Champions and the ambition is that during Dementia Awareness Week a push for further volunteers could see this rise to 200.

Dementia Champions do not have to be clinical staff, Simon Wood, the Trust’s Director of Estates, Facilities and Capital Planning, is among the people who have signed up to the scheme.

The champions support their colleagues in caring for people with dementia and ensure patients and carers affected by dementia have the experience they should when they are in hospital.

The CQC also highlighted the Trust’s focus on environmental changes to ward areas as part of the commitment to caring for patients with dementia.

A project has now been completed within several wards at Southmead Hospital, where an artist has been working with staff and patients to make the areas easier to navigate for people with dementia.

Photographs from bygone times and images relating to Bristol’s past, as well as the opportunity to take a “walk through a park” within the ward have been used to help provide meaningful activity for people with dementia when they are in hospital. The aim is that the images will spark memories and conversations for carers and staff to have with patients.

Meaningful activity for people with dementia has also been aided by knitted Twiddlemuffs, which volunteers have knitted for patients in their dozens.

Staff, volunteers and local knitting groups have got in on the act providing the comforters with attachments patients can touch, which has made the project sustainable.

Information about Twiddlemuffs and other activities will be available on a stall in the atrium of the Brunel building on Monday (May 16) and Thursday (May 19) as part of the Dementia Care Team’s Dementia Awareness Week commemorations.

Digital Reminiscence Therapies are also used within the Trust. The tablet devices can be tailored to individual patients and used to spark conversations about their past.

The Dementia Care Team has been working with the Carers Support Team at North Bristol NHS Trust to help provide support for the carers of people with dementia who are in hospital. Earlier this year the Trust announced that carers can now have an access badge to get on to wards and the staff restaurant as well as free parking when the people they care for are in hospital.

Dementia Awareness Week is also providing the Trust with the opportunity to celebrate two years of the Memory Café, which takes place every week with the support of the Alzheimer’s Society.

The first of its kind in a hospital environment, the café – which provides an opportunity for patients, carers and staff to access support in the community – runs on a drop-in basis every Wednesday afternoon and was highly commended in last year’s BMJ Awards.

Jet added: “This week’s events are about raising awareness and is a chance for us to talk to staff and carers about how we can support them, whether that is by signposting them to other organisations or giving them some information.”