Dementia Nurse team are Champion!

Congratulations to the Dementia Nurse team on a series of very successful Dementia Champions meetings at William Harvey Hospital (WHH) and Kent and Canterbury Hospital (KCH).

The Dementia Nurse team are led by Dementia Matron Joy Marshall (WHH) whose commitment to working with patients with dementia stems from her experiences as a Nurse Specialist for Falls Prevention. At the latest meeting at KCH Joy said, “As a ‘Falls Nurse I saw first-hand the difference one person can make.” Joy explained that the Dementia Team’s role is to assess every adult over the age of 75 admitted to any of the hospitals, for dementia.

In doing so, they have created a range of practical measures that aim to improve the quality of care the patient experiences whilst in hospital. For example, each hospital ward now has a Dementia Champion whose responsibility is to ensure a dementia-aware and dementia-friendly environment. Patients and their families should be able to speak directly to their ward’s Dementia Champion or to one of the Dementia Nurses.

Karan from the Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Hospital League of Friends (QEQM), presented ideas to improve nutrition and drinking, such as coloured plates and cups that contrast with food more visibly, colour coded placemats and water-jugs that alert the nurses on duty that the individual might need encouragement to eat or drink, a range of ‘finger-foods’ to stimulate other senses as well as meet nutritional needs and photo-menus. Simple things that will clearly help someone with dementia receive more appropriate levels of care.

Lorna (KCH) gave a presentation about End of Life care for people with dementia and spoke from the heart about the need for good communication between hospital staff and also between the family and staff. “The key issues are in raising awareness and in planning.” She made this in reference to the difficulties faced by families and hospital staff when end of life wishes have not been discussed, particularly when the individual no longer has the capacity to make their wishes known. With the introduction of the Dementia Nurse team, planning and communication is set to become top of the agenda.

There are a raft of other ideas and plans that hope to be in place in the near future and it is to the credit of this team that they are being pursued with such vigour!